President Barack Obama's brief, history-making visit to Chicago on Thursday included a pep talk to volunteers during a stop at a Hyde Park field office for his 2012 campaign.
Although Illinois isn't a battleground, the volunteers are making calls to voters in states that are, and Obama told them that they're an integral part of the campaign. He said he expects a close election and urged those on hand to work hard for the final 12 days of the race.
Obama's stop came after he made history by becoming the first sitting president to cast an early ballot in person.
The president arrived in Chicago earlier in the afternoon, about 20 minutes ahead of schedule, to take advantage of early voting.
Obama exited Air Force One moments after the 3:24 p.m. landing at O'Hare International Airport and was immediately greeted by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and a throng of spectators. Moments later, he boarded Marine One for the brief helicopter flight to the city. A motorcade took the president to a polling location inside the Dr. Martin Luther King Community Center.
The president was back on Air Force Once and on his way to Ohio at 6 p.m.
His stop in the Windy City came after a whirlwind tour of five states. His stop in California included a visit with Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," where he seized on comments by Republican Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.
"I don't know how these guys come up with these ideas," Obama said. "Let me make a very simple proposition. Rape is rape. It is a crime."
From California, Obama flew to Las Vegas for an early morning rally that drew more than 5,000 people. A fire official estimated there were several thousand more in long lines waiting to get in hours before the presidential plane touched down at McCarran International Airport.
The president had campaign stops in Florida and Virgina prior to the Illinois visit.
Early Voting in Illinois began Monday. Registered voters in Chicago can cast their ballot at any location in the city. All 51 early voting sites remain open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
First Lady Michelle Obama cast her ballot by absentee ballot by mail earlier this month.