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Emotional Obama ends campaign in Iowa with call for change

U.S. President Barack Obama appears with tears on his cheek during remarks at his final presidential campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov
U.S. President Barack Obama appears with tears on his cheek during remarks at his final presidential campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa, Nov

By Jeff Mason

DES MOINES, Iowa (Reuters) - An emotional President Barack Obama ended his final campaign on Monday in Iowa, the place that launched his first White House bid and that could hold the key to his political future.

After two days of nearly round-the-clock travel to the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Colorado, New Hampshire and Wisconsin, Obama ended his tour in Des Moines with a speech that harkened back to his 2008 campaign.

"I've come back to Iowa one more time to ask for your vote. I came back to ask you to help us finish what we've started, because this is where our movement for change began," he told a crowd of some 20,000 people.

Obama's voice broke and he wiped away tears from his eyes as he reflected on those who had helped his campaign.

The night rally was the last one of Obama's 2012 re-election effort. Unlike Republican rival Mitt Romney, who has stops planned in Pennsylvania and Ohio on Election Day, Obama is scheduled to spend all of Tuesday in his hometown of Chicago.

In 2008 Iowa propelled Obama to the Democratic presidential nomination when it backed him during its caucuses, the country's first presidential nominating contest. Obama beat then rival Hillary Clinton for their party's nomination and went on to best Republican Senator John McCain for the White House.

This year Iowa is another swing state with six electoral votes that could give him the edge in the race against Romney, the former Massachusetts governor.

Obama has talked wistfully about this being his final campaign in recent months, but his show of emotion was rare. Obama grew teary at the end of his 2008 campaign as well when his grandmother died shortly before Election Day.

Obama reminisced about that campaign and repeated a promise that he has not dwelled on this year: the inspirational pledge to change the world.

Obama told the story of the woman who coined the chant "Fired up, ready to go," a phrase that came to symbolize his 2008 campaign.

"That shows you what one voice can do. One voice can change a room. And if it can change a room, it can change a city. And if it can change a city, it can change a state. And if it can change a state, it can change a nation. And if it can change a nation, it can change the world," he said.

"Iowa, in 2008 your voice changed the world."

First lady Michelle Obama, who has crisscrossed the United States headlining political events for her husband, joined the president for the rally.

"Truly, this is where it all began -- right here," she said to cheers from the crowd.

Obama has traveled to Iowa 12 times this year, according to his campaign.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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