President Obama has had an emotional ride through his final campaign, and the emotion spilled over Wednesday when he momentarily cried while addressing his Chicago campaign staffers.

Obama visited his campaign headquarters in the Prudential Building near Lake Michigan before returning to Washington, the day after his re-election victory. Wearing a white dress shirt, with the top button undone and his silver tie a bit loosened, Obama stood at a microphone in front of two blue signs with his campaign slogan “Forward.”

He told the assembled staff, most of whom were young people in their 20s and 30s, that their work organizing his vast ground operation reminded him of his time as a community organizer in Chicago when he was their age.

“It’s not that you remind me of myself; it’s that you're so much better than I was. You’re smarter and you’re better organized and you’re more effective,” he said in a five-minute clip posted on the campaign’s YouTube channel. “What Bobby Kennedy called the ‘ripples of hope,’ when you throw a stone in the lake, that’s you.”

The president added that he felt he had come “full circle . . . because what you guys have done means the work that I’m doing is important. And I’m really proud of that. I’m really proud of all of you,” Obama said, wiping away tears as the crowd applauded.

“What you guys accomplished will go on in annals of history . . . but the most important thing you need to know is your journey’s just beginning. You’re just starting,” Obama said. “That’s been my source of hope. It’s been why the last four years when people ask me how do you put up with this or that, the frustrations of Washington, I think of what you guys are doing. That’s the source of my hope, my strength and my inspiration.”