ELON, North Carolina (CNN) - Thursday marked the first day of early voting in North Carolina, a state unaccustomed to being in the political spotlight this late in a presidential election year.
But at an afternoon rally at Elon University near Greensboro, Republican Sarah Palin did not offer her supporters even the gentlest reminder that early voting - an opportunity both parties are working to take advantage of - is now underway at nearly 400 sites across the battleground state. Long lines at one-stop voting locations have been reported throughout North Carolina.
She did, however, mention the 85 degree heat.
“Thank you all for that very, very warm welcome to beautiful North Carolina, and it is warm,” she said. “Man, this Alaskan gal is … I’m roasting. This feels really good.”
Palin’s speech lasted only about 20 minutes, and was an abbreviated version of the remarks she delivered this morning in Maine: a brisk run-through of her ticket’s beliefs and platforms, including a one-line promise to protect Second Amendment rights.
In fact, the audience spent more time with country singer Hank Williams, Jr., who donned a Carolina Panthers jersey and warmed up the already warm crowd for about 45 minutes before Palin arrived on a local version of the Straight Talk Express along with North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr.
Near the end of her speech, Palin pressed the audience to stand firm against accusations of negative campaigning, and told them to pay “close attention” to Barack Obama’s record.
“It’s not mean-spirited and it’s not negative campaigning when you call someone out on their record,” she said. “So don’t let anyone, don’t let them make you believe that you’re being negative or mean spirited or unpatriotic or unfair when you are asking about somebody’s record, OK?”
After the rally, Palin continued on to a fundraiser at a home in Greensboro.