October 13th, 2008
01:40 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain-Palin schedules show worry about Southern states?

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/13/art.mccainva.cnn.jpg caption="McCain is campaigning in states he had hoped to have sewn up at this point in the race."]

(CNN) - John McCain and Sarah Palin are campaigning Monday in two states that haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades, a clear indication the GOP ticket is scrambling to defend longtime Republican strongholds with only three weeks until Election Day.

But at a time when the McCain campaign had hoped to have shored up its support in the traditional red states, a string of new surveys show Obama has made significant gains there as voters become increasingly worried about the nation's financial woes.

McCain and Palin held a joint rally in Virginia Beach Monday morning before the two candidates split up, as the Republican nominee heads down to North Carolina as his running mate stays behind for more events in Virginia. It’s only the second time McCain has made visits to either state in more than four months, and comes as a series of battleground surveys suggest his playing field is increasingly shrinking.

Watch: McCain on defense

But while McCain has largely been absent from both states all summer, the Obama campaign has aggressively built up on the ground organizations there, outspent their GOP rival considerably on staff and television commercials, and worked to register tens of thousands of new voters.  The Arizona senator has also been badly out-campaigned in the two states.  According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Democratic ticket has made nine visits to Virginia and seven stops in North Carolina.  That compares to just one visit in Virginia and two in North Carolina on the Republican side.

And in a sign of just how seriously the McCain campaign is worried about both states, the Arizona senator unveiled a re-vamped stump speech there that an aide says is a "frank assessment" of where the race for the White House stands.

"We have 22 days to go. We're 6 points down," he said. "The national media has written us off…. But they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them."

A loss in either state could prove devastating to the Arizona senator's presidential hopes, given his campaign’s recent pullout from competing in Michigan and sagging poll numbers in many of the other key battleground states. Should Virginia or North Carolina tilt Obama's way, the Arizona senator would have to compensate by taking a state such as Pennsylvania that appears solidly leaning in Obama's direction.

But it's not only the nation's flagging economy that is helping tilt both Southern states toward Obama. In addition to the Illinois senator's considerable money advantage there, each state has undergone significant demographic shifts over the last two decades that have made Democrats steadily more competitive.

"The North Carolina and Virgina of today is far more diverse than they were twenty or even ten years ago," CNN Senior Political Researcher Alan Silverleib said. "The states' changing economy has attracted thousands of new voters willing to pull the lever for a Democratic nominee."

Then there’s the unknown variable of an anticipated rise in turnout in the African-American community. In 2006, that voting bloc made up 26 percent of North Carolina's electorate and 21 percent of the Virginia electorate. Obama will likely win a higher percentage of the black vote this cycle in both states than John Kerry’s 87 percent, and unprecedented turnout is expected.

But despite a series of developments that appear to be shifting the states away from McCain, the Arizona senator told his supporters he's not giving up yet.

"Stand up, stand up, stand up and fight," he said at the Virginia Beach rally. "America is worth fighting for. Nothing is inevitable here. We never give up. We never quit. We never hide from history. We make history."

Filed under: North Carolina • Virginia
soundoff (209 Responses)
  1. John in Ohio

    "Comes down to this for me…..3 years experience vs. decades of experience and service to the country."

    Decades of experience losing fights, or 3 years of experience winning them, who do you vote for?

    October 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. roger

    I am a democrat who until this election had the upmost respect for John McCain but his handling of the campaign has soured me so much that I would never vote for him for anything. First his choice of Palin for the VP job anyone without blinders on or a die heart republican can see that she is not qualified to run this country. Second, the lies that he & especially Palin have spread are out of control. Third, I do believe the tone of his campaign has leaned toward racism. Fourth, for him to use his POW experience & Palin to use her newborn child with special needs as a tool to gain votes is outrageous

    October 13, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  3. Yet another Republican for Obama

    Go away, Senator McCain and take your disgraceful campaign with you.

    October 13, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  4. Perusing-Through


    Is a quote attributed to a military officer when he found himself surrounded on all sides by the enemy. I wish I could find the name of that officer and in which war he uttered that famous line.

    Either way, it wouild have been respectful if John McCain had acknowledged where he stole the quote. But I guess when you are running out of lies, stealing quotes is not a bad option.

    GOD Bless the United States of America!
    GOD Bless the Obama-Biden Leadership Team!

    October 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  5. Spencer/Commonwealth of Virginia

    I'd like to compare the turnout from Sen. Obama's rally here in Newport News to the one McCain is holding in VA Beach. Sen. Obama had to hold his rally outdoors because almost the whole city was there. Sen. McCain is holding his indoors and is struggling to fill up seats. Virginia will be blue!!!!


    October 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  6. Bill

    Things are looking more and more bleak for McCain. I think the future of North Carolina and Virginia is with the democrats. The research triangle in North Carolina and the ever growing affluence of Virginia will play into the hands of the Dems. Where will republicans make up this huge loss in future elections? On top of that, young people have moved very far to the left, and it is very likely that more and more young people will continue to move into the North Carolina and Virginia regions to seek high paying jobs not available in the south and midwest.

    October 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. bobbie taylor

    If McCain dump his running mate, I will consider voting for him coming election. Palin is a retard. McCain made poor judgement in choosing her to be his VP, let alone the war in Iraq.

    Go Obama/Biden '08

    October 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  8. Rodger

    Welcome to Virginia! This will be next state to go solid blue, they will soon elect a second Democratic Senator to go with their Demcratic Governor and othe Democratic Senator. The will vote by 8-10% for a new Democratic President...Barack Obama!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Mark Ramsey MD Milwaukee WI

    It's over McCain. Best you can hope for is there's no democratic supermajority in congress!

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Annie, Atlanta

    Watching the McCain/Palin campaign last week scared the hell out of me. I thought someone would get hurt and still think that because of what they (mostly she) unleashed. These are not the kind of people I want in our White House EVER. There is more division between Americans now than there has been with Bush, and I naively thought that wasn't possible.

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  11. nelson

    Just watched mccain/palin speech in Va. Do they ever
    change their speeches or lies? What a couple they are..
    dumb and dumber.. just can't fix stupid.

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  12. demo for short

    To: "Team America October 13th, 2008 11:24 am ET
    Comes down to this for me…..3 years experience vs. decades of experience and service to the country."

    Comes down to this for me... 3 years of experience from a guy who is mentally stable with great ideas/solutions vs. decades of experience from a guy who knows nothing about being raised poor, closedminded and is about to croak.

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  13. STL-Veteren

    McCain's done now the best thing they could do is to try a help out the congressional races. The only thing left is to stop the bleeding, at this rate they are going to lose total control of the house and senate as well. In the end the Democratic coalitions were much stronger year then the Republican coalition. This is what happens when the party is not willing to reevaluate its positions based on the needs of the country. This should also show people that if you base you political beliefs on your moral and religious beliefs government becomes inflexible and unable to respond. Religious conservatives should keep there beliefs central to there lives but not try and force our country to live by there beliefs, it is not what the founding fathers wanted.

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Michael

    "I have a plan... I have a plan... I have a plan... quick let me think of one for you.... nevermind, I lost it..." Still all talk and no specifics, Senator. Still lying about "Obama will raise your taxes", still hinting at your POW past. This was supposed to be a "new" stump speech? I'm still just seeing more of the same. And what the heck do you mean by "take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections", who put that absurd notion in to your head?

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  15. JB

    It will be nice before the election to see what the FBI finds out when they finish the ACORN voter fraud investiation that has Obama connections.

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  16. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    McCain coming to NC today – too little, too late. We have a new contraption here called TV – and we've already heard the lies he and his vp pick are spreading. No Way, Now How, No McCain, No Palin.

    October 13, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  17. A McCain/Palin administration will never happen, thank God

    If by "where we want them". you mean voting for Obama, then sir, you are correct. I'm doing everything in my power to see you into retirement.

    October 13, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  18. Julie in NC

    It ain't over 'til it's over – we Dems still need to get out and vote on/by November 4!

    I must say, unless I am missing them, the majority of the ads I see on TV right now in Raleigh are decidedly in 2 camps. The McCain ones tend to be negative with no policy discussion; the Obama ones are more about his policies. Same goes for the down ticket races – Dole's ads tend to be negative attacks, mostly from PAC's, and the governor race is the same.

    Regardless, we must make sure that, although NC has a 2:1 Dem/Rep voter registration per the Election Board website, we still get out and vote! Early and one-stop voting starts this week (Oct 16) so there are no excuses!

    October 13, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  19. Greg, NY


    Don't you realize that voter registration is one thing, but those phony names would have to actually go and vote, which obviously is impossible.

    October 13, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  20. Marylou

    Thanks John…we are just where we want to be…positioned with an articulate, educated, respected candidate, with a running mate of equal value. You sir, on the other hand, have acted like a confused, erratic and near hysterical opponent, with a running mate equal to the confused, incompetent, mumbling George Bush. Palin may play well in Alaska, but down here she acts like a RABID dog, of questionable pedigree. Stay on course John..and thanks for “having us right where you want us”..

    October 13, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  21. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Still on the fence.

    You know...since I've been watching these two guys...their twists and turns and agenda adjustments, their key supporters, some of the absurdly liberal ideas emitting from both camps...I gotta say this:

    Mabye we should just hang on to George Bush a little longer!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  22. Football player

    The GOP is not a football team, and we can't be rallied by football analogys. McCain seems to think he's a coach, and all he has to do is get up hyped with an awesome speech. No. He has to pick a VP with experience to lead, not stunt cast the role. He has to be able to tell people how he's going to fix what's broken and he somehow has to demonstrate he didn't do the breaking in the first place. But I don't think he can do it. I think this game is lost, and it's not a game. It's our world that's at stake - I think that's why Senator Obama is winning. He understands the whole world is at stake and this is not a matter of just revving up the base to vote just for the sake of holding onto power.

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. Gary

    Do these McCain rallies look more like a scene from " Weekend at Bernies"? With Cindy and Sarah propping him up and dragging him around? So sad.

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  24. tulsa

    Just read McCain's prepared remarks.
    His new "plan" is just the same old things.
    His attacks on Obama's plan have all been proven untrue or misleading by the fact checks.
    So how does this turn things around?

    John McCain says "I know how"
    John, you can't just say it, you have to back it up.

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. FOP guy in Virginia

    Look in my profession we never make 250K but we do rely on our 401K or Retirement system. Why is it that I feel we are being ROBBED at the gas pump and up on Wall Street! The oil companies basically held the Republican administration hostage until they got a vote on Oil drilling. Then the bankers hold the country hostage until we do a Bailout for them Then the Big 3 Auto makers request 25 Billion in loans to retool so we are bailing them out too. When does this all end & what happened to the fiscal conservatives I thought I put into the WH 7 years ago? They won't even let the Dept of Justice indict these criminals yet they let them escape with 100's of Millions of dollars?
    Is this for real? I have got to Vote a different way this fall; I am voting
    what is left of my pocketbook..

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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