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High turnout in historic US polls

Democrat Barack Obama is joining the nation’s earliest voters in filling in a ballot in his historic presidential contest with Republican John McCain.

Obama arrived at his precinct in Chicago shortly after 7:30 CST Tuesday. His wife, Michelle, and their young daughters accompanied him as he received a ballot and went to a polling station. The Obamas stood side by side and their daughters looked on as they read their ballots.

Obama planned a quick campaign stop in Indiana on Election Day before a massive outdoor rally in front of the skyline in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The day’s forecast was for an unseasonably warm 70 degrees.

McCain planned events in Colorado and New Mexico, then a party at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, long lines have formed as polls open in Eastern states as John McCain is counting on a narrow path to an upset victory today while Barack Obama pinned his hopes for becoming the nation’s first black president on a ground organization designed to swell precincts with voters across the country.

“I think these battleground states have now closed up, almost all of them, and I believe there’s a good scenario where we can win,” McCain told CBS’ “The Early Show” in an interview broadcast as the day’s first voters stood in early-morning lines.

“Look, I know I’m still the underdog, I understand that,” the Arizona senator said. “You can’t imagine, you can’t imagine the excitement of an individual to be this close to the most important position in the world, and I’ll enjoy it, enjoy it. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.”

Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said he was confident that new voters and young voters would fuel an enormous turnout to benefit the Illinois senator.

“We just want to make sure people turn out,” Plouffe told “Today” on NBC. “We think we have enough votes around the country.”

Standing in line in one of the battleground states, Ahmed Bowling of Alexandria, Viginia, said the election “will mark a significant change in the lives of all Americans, and so we do have to come out as early as possible to cast our votes.”

In Brooklyn, New York, 49-year-old Venus Kevin said the line at her precinct was “already down the block and around the corner” when she arrived shortly before 6 am EST.

“Obama is the man,” said Kevin, who is black. “His message and his vision has reached a lot of people, not just African-Americans.”

The contest pitted the 47-year-old Obama, a first-term Illinois senator who rocketed to stardom on the power of his oratory and a call for change, against the 72-year-old McCain, a 26-year lawmaker whose mettle was tested during 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“I’m feeling kind of fired up. I’m feeling like I’m ready to go,” Obama told nearly 100,000 people gathered for his final rally Monday night in Virginia.

“At this defining moment in history, Virginia, you can give this country the change it needs,” Obama said to voters in a state that hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 44 years.

McCain completed a cross-country trek through seven battleground states before arriving at home in Phoenix early Tuesday morning.

“This momentum, this enthusiasm convinces me we’re going to win tomorrow,” McCain told a raucous evening rally in Henderson, Nev. It was the fifth campaign stop in an 18-hour odyssey that took him across three time zones.

Obama planned a quick campaign stop in Indiana on Election Day before a massive outdoor rally in front of the skyline in his adopted hometown of Chicago. The day’s forecast was for an unseasonably warm 70 degrees.

McCain planned events in Colorado and New Mexico, then a party at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix.

Obama urged his supporters to resist overconfidence. “Even if it rains tomorrow, you can’t let that stop you. You’ve got to wait in line. You’ve got to vote,” he said.

OBAMA WINS IN EARLIEST VOTE IN TINY DIXVILLE NOTCH
Barack Obama came up a big winner in the presidential race in Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location, New Hampshire, where tradition of having the first Election Day ballots tallied lives on.

Democrat Obama defeated Republican John McCain by a count of 15 to 6 in Dixville Notch, where a loud whoop accompanied the announcement in Tuesday’s first minutes. The town of Hart’s Location reported 17 votes for Obama, 10 for McCain and two for write-in Ron Paul. Independent Ralph Nader was on both towns’ ballots but got no votes.

“I’m not going to say I wasn’t surprised,” said Obama supporter Tanner Nelson Tillotson, whose name was drawn from a bowl to make him Dixville Notch’s first voter.

With 115 residents between them, Dixville Notch and Hart’s Location get every eligible voter to the polls beginning at midnight on Election Day. Between them, the towns have been enjoying their first-vote status since 1948.

Being first means something to residents of the Granite State, home of the nation’s earliest presidential primary and the central focus “however briefly” of the vote-watching nation’s attention every four years.

Town Clerk Rick Erwin said Dixville Notch is proud of its tradition, but added, “The most important thing is that we exemplify a 100 percent vote.”

Dixville Notch resident Peter Johnson said the early bird electoral exercise “is fun.” A former naval aviator, Johnson said he was voting for McCain, but added, “I think both candidates are excellent people.”

GRANDMOTHER DIES
The Illinois senator’s final day of campaigning was bittersweet: He was mourning the loss of his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him. She died of cancer Sunday night, never to see the results of the historic election.

A tearful Obama, who stands on the historic threshold of becoming the first black US president, told 25,000 supporters here that Madelyn Dunham had passed away in her sleep at her Hawaii home after a long battle with cancer.

She was 86.

The Democrat lauded Dunham, who raised him when his anthropologist mother was studying in Indonesia, as one of America’s “quiet heroes,” and delivered an impassioned vow to work for all such heroes if elected to the White House.

The news broke on the campaign’s final day as Obama blitzed through Florida and North Carolina before a concluding late-night rally in Virginia — all Republican states that he is bidding to flip into his column.

Obama had dashed to his grandmother’s side in Hawaii two weeks ago, fearing she would not live to see what polls suggest may be his triumph against Republican John McCain in Tuesday’s election.

November 4, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , ,

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