Monday, November 03, 2008

Nerves of steel

The media reports his staff is jazzed but Obama is ending this race just as he started. Cool, calm, collected and focused on the task at hand.
In the last days on the trail, he is finishing “Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the C.I.A., Afghanistan and Bin Laden,” and taking an occasional glance at US Weekly. He reads at least two newspapers a day, vigilantly checks his BlackBerry for updates on early voting tallies and browses briefing books.
Me, I'm surprised at how emotional I've become over this race. It doesn't take much, like this simple vignette, to bring me near tears.
One of the greatest frustrations of his candidacy — being away from his wife, Michelle, and his two daughters, Malia and Sasha — will come to an end, win or lose. When his plane touched down on Saturday afternoon in Pueblo, Colo., his step carried an extra lilt. It was not because of the place that he finds himself in the closing moments of his campaign, but because his two daughters were standing on the breezy tarmac waiting to be scooped up by their father.
I think we'll all be glad when this long nightmarish campaign is over. Meanwhile The Caucus is covering the last campaign swings before the big day. This is the sort of thing that keeps me wildly swinging between optimism and fear. Reporting from Florida:
Today is not about persuading voters. After all, election officials say that 46 percent of voters here have already cast their ballots through Florida’s early-voting program. The Obama campaign believes that 290,000 voters who did not cast ballots in 2004 have already voted this year.

Jacksonville, a working-class military city whose lifeblood is the sea, was the site of one of the most intriguing – and untold – stories of the 2000 presidential election. Voters in the city’s majority black precincts were nearly three times as likely to have their ballots invalidated. Eight years ago, we spent considerable time here as part of a ballot review project by a consortium of newspapers, so we’ll have our eye on this city tomorrow.
We will all be watching, and waiting, to see if we pop those champagne corks tomorrow night to celebrate a victory or fortify ourselves for a fight over another stolen election if the results don't match the polls again.

[More posts daily at The Newshoggers and The Detroit News.]

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