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After Nearly 2 Years, Obama Machine Winds Down

In Chicago, the mood is relaxed and the president-elect has begun his transition. Here, supporter Trent Hancock has some fun after flying in from San Diego to hear Obama speak in Hyde Park.
In Chicago, the mood is relaxed and the president-elect has begun his transition. Here, supporter Trent Hancock has some fun after flying in from San Diego to hear Obama speak in Hyde Park. (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
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By Shailagh Murray and Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, November 6, 2008

CHICAGO, Nov. 5 -- For 631 days starting in February 2007, Barack Obama had started each day with a campaign to wage, one that carried him from relative obscurity to the threshold of the Oval Office.

For his first day as president-elect of the United States, he started with breakfast at his Hyde Park home with his daughters, a rare midweek occurrence. Then came a trip to the gym and a day of work far from the public eye.

Michelle Obama told an interviewer last month that she hoped her husband would spend Nov. 5 quietly at home, but he spent much of the day beginning the transformation from candidate to commander in chief.

During an emotional morning conference call, Obama offered deep thank to hundreds of campaign workers in his Chicago headquarters and around the country.

He credited them with building "the best political team in history" and said they will be "shaping the world for years to come."

He said he had watched scenes from across the globe of people cheering the election results, and he asked his exhausted staffers to take a moment to appreciate their accomplishments.

One listener said his message could be summed up in six words: "Can you believe we did this?"

Obama spent part of the day at the offices of Ariel Investments, a firm headed by his friend John W. Rogers Jr., to meet with running mate Joseph R. Biden Jr. and top advisers -- including likely White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, political strategist David Axelrod and transition chief John D. Podesta.

The campaign, showing that it had anticipated the moment and prepared for victory, unveiled a roster of transition managers. Aides signaled that the first Cabinet members could be named as soon as next week.

Senior appointments on national security and the economy are considered a top priority.

Michelle Obama, for her part, telephoned Laura Bush to discuss life at the White House.

The current first lady invited the next one to visit the White House with her daughters, Malia and Sasha.


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