CHICAGO - Seeking a transcendent victory, Democrat Barack Obama made a final-hour push for Republican-leaning Indiana on Tuesday after casting his own ballot with his young daughters at his side.
"It's going to be tight as a tick here in Indiana," Obama told volunteers in Indianapolis trying to get out the vote for the Democratic ticket with only seven hours to go in the area's balloting. "So the question is who wants it more."
The Illinois senator and his wife, Michelle, were among the first to vote after polls opened Tuesday at Chicago's Beulah Shoesmith Elementary School. They cast paper ballots in side-by-side booths with 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha looking on.
"The journey ends, but voting with my daughters, that was a big deal," Obama told reporters later.
At times while he completed his ballot Obama grinned at his daughters and whispered to them. His wife took longer to fill out the lengthy ballot with several local offices up for consideration, and at one point Sasha hugged her father's leg looking impatient. Obama later joked that he had to check who his wife was voting for after she took so long.
The family was ushered inside ahead of a line of their Hyde Park neighbors that wrapped around the block and cheered upon their arrival. Fellow voters inside watched in silence and snapped cell-phone pictures.
Obama kissed the cheek of the poll worker who took his ballot, then watched while she fed it into a machine. The crowd broke into applause when a smiling Obama held up his validation slip and said, "I voted."
Obama voted a few minutes after William Ayers, the 1960s radical who lives in the neighborhood and whom Republicans tried to link to Obama in the campaign. Ayers did not answer a question about how he voted from reporters waiting inside for Obama's arrival.
Afterward, Obama traveled to Indianapolis for final campaign stop to encourage voters in Indiana to support the Democratic candidate from next door. He helped about two dozen members of United Auto Workers Local 550 in Indianapolis work the phones at their union hall.
"I think we can win Indiana, otherwise I wouldn't be in Indiana," he said.
Obama was targeting other swing states in the final hours of voting by doing an hour and a half of satellite television interviews from a Chicago hotel room. The interviews were with local news stations in Florida, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Nevada, Missouri.
Later he planned his voting-day game of basketball with friends and staff - a habit he liked to stick to in the primaries for good luck - before watching returns at a Chicago hotel room.
After the race is called, he planned to address supporters from a stage built especially for the occasion in Chicago's Grant Park.