CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Tuesday's election results may be uncertain, but President Barack Obama and the tight circle of advisers who have surrounded him through years of campaigning know one thing for sure.
Win or lose, this is it.
"He is very cognizant of the fact that this is his last campaign," David Axelrod, Obama's senior campaign strategist, said of the president. "He knows he's never going to do this again."
These final days of Obama's final political campaign, played out across many of the same towns and cities that propelled him to the White House in 2008, are full of nostalgia.
Former staffers and old friends are traveling with the president for the campaign's final stretch. Obama's closing argument speech is peppered with talk of change, the central theme of his 2008 bid. And the campaign's fundraising juggernaut, which is shutting down for good, already sent its last email to supporters, bidding them "goodbye."
Obama will spend Election Day in his hometown of Chicago, getting a rare chance to return with his family to the South Side home where they lived before moving to the White House. And he will headline his last political rally as a candidate Monday night in Iowa, the state that jump-started his first presidential bid and a place for which Obama has an unabashed fondness.
"Iowa, I started my presidential journey right here in this state," Obama said Saturday during his second-to-last campaign stop in the state. "So after two years of campaigning, and after four years as president, you know me by now. "
Even with his future uncertain, aides say Obama is relaxed and energized as he blitzes from state to state urging voters to back him one last time. He's surrounded on Air Force One by some of those who know him best, including Mike Ramos, a childhood friend from Hawaii, and Marty Nesbitt, a friend from Chicago. The president will also be joined Monday by longtime adviser and former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, as well as his former personal aide Reggie Love.
"This is a family," said Jennifer Psaki, who has worked on both of the president's campaigns, as well as in the White House. "There are a lot of laughs. And a lot of nostalgia on the ups and downs, the incredible rollercoaster that this journey has been from the day he announced he was running."
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