Barack Obama ended his 2012 campaign Monday back where it all began for him more than four years ago, in Iowa, and he brought Bruce Springsteen and First Lady Michelle Obama with him in an appearance before thousands of people jammed together in a packed downtown Des Moines.
The president ended his final day of campaigning by taking the stage in Des Moines' East Village at about 10 p.m., talking for about 40 minutes to an estimated crowd of 20,000.
"I come back to Iowa to ask for your help one more time," the president said. "I come back to Iowa where it all started."
He told the audience that he knows what real change looks like.
"We fought for it. We have the scars to show, I have the gray hair," the president said to laughs. "Whan Americans come together determined to bring about change we can do it. We cannot give up on change now."
With national polls showing Obama with only a 1 percent lead, and a Des Moines Register Iowa Poll giving him a 5 point lead over Mitt Romney in Iowa, the president needs every vote, especially in the Hawkeye state.
"Iowa, I'm not ready to give up on the fight," Obama said. "I've got a whole lot of fight left in me."
By 7:30 p.m., a line stretched nearly six blocks in the area as people waited to go through security screening. With thousands crowded into the streets from East Fourth and Locust streets east to the Iowa Capitol, Springsteen took the stage at about 9:30 as the crowd chanted: I-O-W-A, Barack Obama all the way."
"Over 30 years my music has gone from the American Dream to American reality," Springsteen told the crowd. "Voting for Obama is the only way we can get back to the American Dream."
The Boss sang four songs, including "Land of Hopes and Dreams," and one that got the crowd involved using Obama's slogan "Forward!"
The rock superstar said he stood by Obama four years ago and he was proud to be standing next to him still.
Iowans Weigh In
Nineteen-year-old Meghan Moratz of West Des Moines is a first-time voter and fashion major, so one of the reasons she waited in line tonight was to see Michelle Obama. The college student said she'd already voted by absentee ballot for the president.
Her mother, Catherine, was also in line and also voted for Obama. She said, "I think Obama has done a great job, and Michelle, I honestly thinkg is going to be the next Jackie O," referring to the late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Stephanie Maher, 55, of Des Moines, has decided to vote on Tuesday for Obama. The state employee said she is concerned about retiring and what benefits she'll have once she does.
"I waited to vote until tomorrow because it means more to me than doing it ahead of time," Maher said. "I feel like I'm part of the process this way."
Frank Waite of Des Moines sat waiting for the Obama rally to start. On his chair rested a copy of a book by David R. Waite, his great-grandfather.
"He helped give women the right to vote," Waite said. "He was a huge leader in the women's suffrage movement."
Politics is definitely a family thing, he said, and Waite cast his vote last week to beat the crowds. A local teamster, Waite works at the Des Moines International Airport. He was a Democratic caucus precinct captain in Des Moines for many years before recently hanging up the responsibility. As a precinct captain, he said he never publicly supported a candidate, but has always followed Obama's presidency closely.
But since he is no longer a precinct worker, Waite decided to come to tonight's rally.
"I support him in every way I can," Waite said. "Obama speaks the truth."
Hawkeye State Launched Obama
Iowa voters gave then first-term Sen. Barack Obama his first win in the presidential campaign more than four years ago, in the 2007 Iowa Caucuses, when he defeated presumptive favorite Hillary Clinton. And despite a sluggish economy, Iowa might help deliver Obama to the White House again. He is 5 percentage points ahead of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in Sunday's Des Moines Register Iowa Poll.
Springsteen, Obama in Wisconsin
In Wisconsin this morning, Springsteen played the anthem "Land of Hope and Dreams," according to WOI-TV. The singer said that after Obama ran on an optimistic message of change in 2008 he now faces "a world that challenges your hopefulness."
Aides say Springsteen sat with Obama on the Air Force One flight to Columbus, Ohio, and discussed the recovery effort in New Jersey following the East Coast storm Sandy.
Springsteen joked in Madison, WI, that while he's proud to be endorsing the president again, "that first debate really freaked me out."
GOP Ticket Hits Iowa Hard in Last Blitz
Meanwhile, the GOP ticket of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan had a strong Iowa presence in the last three days of the race. Romney was in Dubuque Saturday and held a Sunday morning rally in Des Moines.
The former Massachusetts governor told the crowd that once he takes office, he’ll work hard to get America’s economy rolling again, something he claimed President Obama has failed to during his term in office.
Running mate Ryan was to hold a victory rally at 5 p.m. Monday near the Des Moines Airport.