WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama congratulated Republican rival Mitt Romney on Tuesday for running a hard-fought race for the White House and expressed confidence he would win re-election during a stop at a local campaign office to thank volunteers.
"I ... want to say to Governor Romney congratulations on a spirited campaign. I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today," Obama said as volunteers made phone calls encouraging supporters to get to the polls.
"We feel confident we've got the votes to win, but it's going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out. And so I would encourage everybody on all sides just to make sure that you exercise this precious right that we have that people fought so hard for us to have."
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Obama made calls to volunteers from the campaign office to thank them for working for his re-election.
"I expect that we'll have a good night, but no matter what happens, I just want to say how much I appreciate everybody who supported me, everybody who's worked so hard on my behalf," he said.
Obama thanks volunteers (Photo: AFP)
Earlier on Tuesday, Romney cast his ballot near his Massachusetts home. Asked who he voted for, Romney replied, "I think you know."
The Republican challenger still has campaign rallies Tuesday in the crucial battleground state of Ohio and neighboring Pennsylvania. He will return to Boston on Tuesday night for an Election Day reception.
Opinion polls show Obama and Romney in a virtual dead heat, although the Democratic incumbent has a slight advantage in several vital swing states that could give him the 270 electoral votes needed to win the state-by-state contest.
Romney votes in Massachusetts (Photo: AFP)
Traditionally presidential candidates get media attention on Election Day by going to vote. But Obama cast his ballot in Chicago last month – part of his campaign's push to get its supporters to vote early.
So the president's visit to the office gave him a chance to get in front of the cameras, generate news coverage and encourage turnout.
Polling station in New Jersey (Photo: Reuters)
Obama and Romney, a former Massachusetts governor and private equity executive, have fought a largely negative campaign. Obama's team attacked Romney for his business record, and Romney's team criticized the president for presiding over high unemployment and a slow economic recovery.
Obama's conciliatory comments represent the close of the bitter campaign and could appeal to last-minute undecided voters, who are turned off by the lack of bipartisanship in Washington.
Voting in New York (Photo: AP)
In addition to his campaign office stop, Obama is doing a round of interviews and is expected to play basketball with friends, a tradition for the sports-loving president on Election Day.
Disagreements about Tuesday's vote were already recorded in Pennsylvania and several other states. In Pennsylvania, 70 Republican representatives complained in court that Democrats are preventing them from entering polling station and were granted the right to observe voting with police escort. Legal motions were also made in Florida and Ohio.
Reuters contributed to the report
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