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Obama Squeezes in Basketball with Scottie Pippen before Election Results

The news that came out of Campaign 2012 this afternoon should tell you all you need to know about how this thing is shaking out: While President Obama spent the night in his old bed in Chicago, where he hung out all day visiting campaign workers, playing basketball and awaiting tonight’s election results, Republican challenger Mitt Romney was grinding out more campaign stops in Ohio and Pennsylvania rather than chilling back home in Massachusetts.

While Romney said the last-minute campaigning was prompted by his desire to avoid looking back on his campaign “with anything other than the greatest degree of satisfaction,” he said to Virginia radio station WRVA, most savvy election observers know it really reflects his campaign’s anxiety about its narrowing chances for victory. After all, Romney started out the day at his Massachusetts home, where he cast his early-morning vote. But then it was back on the road one last time.

Romney was in Cleveland and Pittsburgh for some last-minute campaigning in an attempt to squeak out wins in Ohio and Pennsylvania—two states he desperately needs to win to have a chance to get to the 270 electoral college votes needed. After a bunch of campaign stops, Romney will be back in Massachusetts tonight to watch the late election results and then step out on the stage for what he hopes will be a victory celebration at the Boston Convention Center.

Most of the last-second analysts today predicted a comfortable win for Obama, with electoral college totals somewhere near 300. Because so many of the so-called battleground states are in the Eastern time zone, it will probably be clear fairly early in the evening where the election results are headed as the polls start closing after 7 p.m. If Obama wins a majority among Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, it will likely be a very good night for him.

Obama started his day visiting a field office in Hyde Park, where he sat down and actually made some get-out-the-vote calls to stunned voters in nearby Wisconsin, one of the battlegrounds states.

“Hi, is this Annie? This is Barack Obama,” Obama said, according to reports. “This is Barack Obama. You know, the president?”

“She was very nice to me, even though she initially didn’t know who I was,” Obama said after the call.

“The great thing about these campaigns is after all the TV ads and all the fundraising and all the debates and all the electioneering, it comes down to this, one day,” Obama said, “and these incredible folks who are working so hard, making phone calls, making sure that people go out to vote.”

Obama congratulated Romney for a “spirited” campaign, though he probably wanted to use a few other choice adjectives.

“I want to say to Gov. Romney, congratulations on a spirited campaign,” Obama said. “I know that his supporters are just as engaged and just as enthusiastic and working just as hard today.

“We feel confident we’ve got the votes to win, but it’s going to depend ultimately on whether those votes turn out,” he continued. “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.”

When he stepped out of the presidential motorcade at around 1 p.m. at the Hope Athletic Center on Chicago’s West Side, the president was keeping alive his campaign tradition of election-day basketball—this time with an esteemed guest: Bulls Hall-of-Fame forward Scottie Pippen, holder of six NBA championship rings.

According to the Chicago Tribune, other players in the game included former Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, former Bulls player Randy Brown, Obama brother-in-law and Oregon State head basketball coach Craig Robinson, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, White House Assistant Chef Sam Kass, Reggie Love, Mike Ramos and Marty Nesbitt, who is Obama’s best friend.

A tweet from Giannoulias said that he was playing on a team with Obama, Pippen and Brown—and they won by 20 points. All in all, it appeared to be shaping up to be a good day for Team Obama.

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