President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, with their daughters, Malia… (Jewell Samad/AFP/Getty…)
WASHINGTON -- President Obama was quiet Wednesday, uttering no public words for the first time in many weeks.
Instead he spent the day with staffers and family, making a leisurely trip back to the White House after celebrating his reelection with thousands of supporters Tuesday night in his hometown of Chicago.
On his way out of town, the president paid a visit to the Obama for America headquarters, where volunteers and staff greeted him with a standing ovation and climbed on top of desks to see the man they helped keep in office.
The visit took place behind closed doors, though, on a day when the president took what one aide called "a breather" from the spotlight.
PHOTOS: President Obama’s past
Aboard Air Force One en route Washington, campaign officials marveled at the ground game that had propelled the Obama victory. Election night returns unfolded very close to the way their models predicted, said one official, recalling the election day events.
Still, the team was surprised at how fast the race came to a close on Tuesday. In fact, even high-ranking staffers were not yet with the president when the race was called. The president and his immediate family were alone in their hotel suite when the networks began declaring him the winner.
While Obama advisors roamed the plane talking to reporters Wednesday, the president himself stayed cloistered with his wife and daughters, Sasha and Malia.
During the flight, Air Force One Col. Scott Turner and some crew members brought the president a sheet cake to congratulate him.
As they posed for pictures, a question dawned on the president.
"There is somebody flying this plane, right?" he asked.
ANALYSIS: The Times breaks down Election Day
That story came by way of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, who conveyed it on a visit to the part of the cabin inhabited by reporters.
After scores of stump speeches and thousands of words, a friend said, Obama wanted just one day off the record.
Follow Politics Now on Twitter and Facebook