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Obama Plans Another Campaign Marathon For Monday

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: And I'm Scott Horsley, traveling with the president, who's also milking every last hour from these final days. Mr. Obama was up long past midnight, and he's planning another 14-hour, voice-taxing marathon today, ending with a final rally in Iowa, where his national campaign began five years ago.


PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I'm here today because I'm not ready to give up on the fight. I know I look a little older, but I got a lot of fight left in me.

HORSLEY: Former President Bill Clinton campaigned alongside Mr. Obama yesterday, telling supporters in Concord, New Hampshire even though the U.S. economy has not fully recovered, it is on the mend.


PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Are we moving in the right direction?


CLINTON: So I'm for President Obama, because he's been a good commander-in-chief and he's done a good job.


FLEETWOOD MAC: (Singing) Don't stop believing about tomorrow...

HORSLEY: The president and former president, once antagonists, have grown to appreciate one another's political strengths. And there was a certain nostalgia this weekend, as Clinton recalled his own first campaign for president 20 years ago. Back then, Barack Obama was a young organizer, helping to elect Clinton by running a voter registration drive for African-Americans in Chicago. The idea was to bring people who'd never voted into the political process. That's still a guiding principle for Mr. Obama two decades later.


OBAMA: I ran the first time because the voices of the American people, your voices, had been shut out of our democracy for way too long.

HORSLEY: If Mr. Obama prevails tomorrow, it will be in no small part because he's persuaded millions of Americans that it's worth their time to vote. Since 2008, his campaign says it's registered nearly 1.8 million new voters in battleground states. It's fought to prevent ID requirements that might curtail the vote. And it's aggressively promoted early voting to make the process more convenient. That battle continues in Florida, where some counties offered a chaotic extension of voting hours yesterday in response to long lines and litigation. Demographer Ruy Teixeira of the Center for American Progress says the more the voting public looks like America, the better it is for the Democrats.

RUY TEIXEIRA: Make no mistake: Republicans do best in elections at this point when the actual voting electorate is divorced as far as possible from the underlying demographics of the country.

HORSLEY: Expanding the electorate is how the Obama campaign changed the political map four years ago. And while this year's race lacks the groundswell of history and enthusiasm of 2008, the Latino vote - to cite just one example - is likely to be bigger and even more lopsidedly Democratic.

Mr. Obama told the Des Moines Register if that happens, congressional Republicans will be forced to rethink their opposition to immigration reform, and that could set the stage for bipartisan compromise. Bill Clinton also sees prospects for a grand bargain on deficit reduction, like the one the Republicans walked away from last year.


CLINTON: Barack Obama is a proven cooperator. And when you reelect him, the door will be open, and they will walk through that door.

HORSLEY: All of this helps to explain the air of confidence that Mr. Obama and his aides have been projecting in recent days. The rally crowds have been growing, as they always do this time of year. For all the hype surrounding his campaigning, though, Mr. Obama says, half-jokingly, he's just a prop. This former community organizer says the real work is happening elsewhere.


OBAMA: It's up to somebody knocking on the door. It's up to somebody making a phone call. It's up to somebody talking to their mom or their dad or their wife or their husband or grandma or grandpa. And that's how democracy's supposed to be. It's up to you. You've got the power.

HORSLEY: How and how many voters exercise that power will decide the next president of the United States. Scott Horsley, NPR News, traveling with the president.



It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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