Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Obama is 'fired up' and on course to be next President

Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) shows off a voter validation slip on election day after voting November 4, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.
Democratic presidential nominee U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) shows off a voter validation slip on election day after voting November 4, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.
Chris Ketchum and his daughter Isla wait in line to vote Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
People wait in line to vote on Election Day morning, in Washington, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Ollie, a 3-year-old English Bulldog, waits as his owner votes at a precinct on New York's Wall Street, Tuesday Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Residents wait in line to cast their votes in Hialeah, Fla., Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. Long lines are already forming outside precincts as polls opened at 7 a.m. in this contentious swing state that could come down to a handful of votes. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
A stack of voting receipts sit on a vote tallying machine at a poling place on the Southwest side of Chicago, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., gives a thumbs up to the crowd after voting, Tuesday Nov. 4, 2008, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
A long line of voters wraps around the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union local 683 in Columbus, Ohio on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. The poll opened at 5:00 a.m. (AP Photo/The Dispatch, Tom Dodge)
Harvard student Ramy Abdelghani, of Cambridge, Mass., steps out of a voting booth on the campus of Harvard University, in Cambridge, early Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Workers get an early start building the inaugural reviewing stand at the White House, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 in Washington. Today's election will determine the next occupant of the White House. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Barack Obama was on course to make history tonight by becoming the first black president of the United States.

Millions of Americans today joined long queues around the country as they prepared to vote for a new era in US politics.

A record high turnout of 130 million people were expected to vote for the 44th president of the United States, with 30 million having already cast their ballots.

Front runner Obama, who appeared to wipe tears from his cheeks on the campaign trail yesterday following the death of his grandmother, joined the nation's earliest voters today in Chicago.

His Republican rival John McCain plans to vote later in Arizona.

After one of the longest and most expensive presidential elections in history the nation will elect either its first black president or its first female vice president, Republican Sarah Palin.

Both candidates were planning last-minute campaign stops to try to woo any Americans still undecided after a hard-fought almost two-year campaign which is estimated to have cost £1.5 billion.

"I voted," Mr Obama told reporters as he held up the validation slip he was handed after turning in a ballot at his Chicago neighbourhood's precinct of Hyde Park.

The 47-year-old Illinois senator was accompanied by his wife Michelle and their two young daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven.

He will end his campaign late tonight at a rally in Chicago where an estimated one million people are expected.

In his final rally in Virginia, which has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee in 44 years, he told almost 100,000 people: "I'm feeling kind of fired up. I'm feeling like I'm ready to go.

"At this defining moment in history, Virginia, you can give this country the change it needs."

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

"We just want to make sure people turn out," Mr Plouffe told NBC's Today show.

"We think we have enough votes around the country."

Mr Obama led by almost eight points in the latest average of national polls by RealClearPolitics.com but Mr McCain remained hopeful of a surprise victory.

"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," he told The Early Show on CBS.

"Look, I know I'm still the underdog, I understand that.

"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."

Americans will decide between Mr Obama, an inexperienced senator with a powerful message of change and hope for the nation, and former Vietnam prisoner of war Mr McCain, who, at 72, would be the oldest first-term president with 26 years of experience in the US Congress.

But it was a bitter-sweet day for Mr Obama whose 86-year-old grandmother Madelyn Dunham, who helped raise him and was frequently mentioned at key points in the race for the White House, died of cancer on Sunday night.

It is "one of the most important elections in the history of the country and the history of the world," Professor Allan Lichtman of the American University in Washington DC said.

The next president will have to face "perhaps the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression", two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and "one of the gravest challenges in the history of mankind - catastrophic climate change".

Mr Lichtman also said today's election would herald a "sea change" in America's relationship with the world as it moved from a primarily unilateral approach under George Bush to a multilateral one.

He said Mr Obama was "the most significant breakthrough candidate in all American history".

"He could do for race in America what John F Kennedy did for religion in America," he said.

"Kennedy governed as a president of all America, proving that a (Roman) Catholic would not be a Catholic president, but a true American president.

"And ever since then the issue of Catholicism has been non-existent."

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