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Obama camp exudes confidence in home stretch

madison, wisconsin The Obama campaign team is a notoriously disciplined bunch. So disciplined, in fact, that senior advisor David Axelrod's use of the word "loins" while talking with reporters in a Springfield, Ohio high school classroom Friday set off a round of wide-eyed, frantic typing on blackberries among staffers who were in the room.

So it's not surprising that Obama campaign officials would express relentless optimism about their election day chances. Even if they thought they were fighting a losing battle, one gets the sense they would plaster a smile on their faces and assure you they feel fantastic.

But as early voting figures pour in from half a dozen crucial battleground states, Obama campaign officials are exuding increasing confidence, even for them.

"The long and short of it is, I would say, we feel really good about where we are," said one senior advisor who has been poring over early vote totals from swing states.

"Do I think we're going to run the table and end up where we were in '08? No. But do I think that frankly any of these states could go our way, and they're all going to be that close that I would put my money on us winning all of them? Yes, I would put money on us being able to win all of them."

Another top aide pegged the campaign's chances of victory at "100 percent," but the chances of sweeping all eight battleground states at "25 percent."

Campaign officials say, based on internal polling and early vote totals, the three battleground states they feel most confident about winning are Nevada, Wisconsin, and Iowa. They place Ohio one rung below those three states; then comes New Hampshire.

Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina are the wild cards, though aides insist they can win all four and point out they can get to 270 electoral votes even if they lose all four. "I'm not going to sit here and tell you North Carolina's the easiest of our battleground states, it's certainly not," said one senior advisor.

"But there's some really positive stuff... we are at a 13 point lead among people who have voted already and there's 50 percent, maybe even 60 percent of people who have early voted. So frankly, (Romney's) got to be about 20 percent above us on Election Day."

"A few weeks ago, people didn't even think we would still have offices open there," said another top aide. "Now we might actually win it."

Asked if he feels more confident about Virginia or Florida, Axelrod demurred. "That's like asking me to chose between my children!" he joked, before adding: "but we could win both."

Obama campaign aides insist that they are not nervous about a last minute Romney offensive in Pennsylvania, even as they dispatch former President Bill Clinton on a four-stop swing through the Keystone State on Monday.

"The light blue states, I would call them, the Pennsylvanias and the Michigans and Minnesotas of the world, I really feel like those are head fakes" by the Romney campaign, said a senior campaign official.

"There's nothing that we're looking at in any of those states that makes us feel like the tide has turned."

Even the president appears more relaxed in this home stretch. Instead of rushing through his stump speech, as he had been just last week, he leans on the podium and hunkers down for an extended (and teleprompter-assisted, of course) chat with audiences of 10 or 20 thousand who have waited for hours to hear him speak.

"I guess he's fired up!" Mr. Obama joked in Cincinnati Sunday night, after a heckler interrupted him at the very start of his remarks. At the close of the speech, Mr. Obama remained on stage and did a little shimmy as Stevie Wonder serenaded him with "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" - a campaign theme song. Then the president bounded off the stage to shake hands and hug supporters, a broad grin on his face.

Aides say President Obama is also growing more relaxed behind the scenes, roaming the cabin on Air Force One as he flies from rally to rally, chatting with staffers about sports. "A lot of it comes from knowing that, no matter what, this is his last race," said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki.

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