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. Phantom of the Oprah

    Obama trashed Hillary in far more hateful and disgusting ways than anything the republicans have been saying about Obama.

    The hatred and vitriol in this election is coming from the democrats. As is all the fraud and voter violations.

    Obama accused HRC and her supporters of racism. He mocked, jeered, ridiculed, demeaned and derided not ONLY Hillary, but all her supporters.

    Now he wants those votes and out comes the race card once again. The media is playing that game again.

    Bring back Hillary and I will vote for a democrat for the 37 year. Otherwise- I can not condone Obama's ugly politics of hatred and division and sexism with my vote.

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. Enough is Enough from Dallas, TX

    "My Friends", we have decided!!! We have decided to choose Barack Obama, a true fighter for this country. No more lies, no more racial undertoness, no more sleazy politics and most importantly no more republican president running amuck in the White House!

    The only history McCain will make is the history our grandchildren will learn in school when the United States decided to stand up, fight and tuake back Washington with a true president we can all be proud!

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  3. fixthebroken

    TAINOPOWER's claim that if Obama wins the election it will be because of fraud is both funny and sad.

    Republicans claiming that Democrats have to cheat to win an election is surely ironic (um, 2000 anyone?).

    Go away!

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  4. Obama08

    Hey Sara come on out from behind that podium and stop reading those speeches prepaired for you and talk to the real media and answers some real questions.. You are a joke and pathetic and not capable of hold the office of VP and god forbid President...Lies.. Lies and Hate and attacks are all McCain/Palin can do..

    October 13, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  5. Kelly

    What are you seeing is the flailing and desperation of a dying campaign. The death knell of the Neocon Republicans.

    Our nation is in need of calm leadership with a vision of the future and a plan to get us there. We do not need a raving mob with a flailing leader that hops from one topic to another to divert attention away from the real concerns of this nation.

    Real change does not come from borrowed slogans and "me too" philosophies. McCain has failed. It is time for real change to begin.

    Obama 08

    October 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. sensible Cape Coral Fl

    Refusing to vote for Obama may not make you racist but voting for McCain/Palin does make you unbelieveably stupid.

    October 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  7. lil

    "The next president want have time to study the economy "so he need
    a vp to take on responsibities and not abuse her power.

    October 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. White Christian Mother for Obama

    LOL.. decades of experience yet look where he has gotten us. Sure its not totally his fault.. but he did vote for war in Iraq which has really drained our country financially into the PIT! McCain has made very poor choices and if he was a Maverick he would have stepped up the plate a little more and we would have caught Bin Ladin by now.

    Its a little late for a speech like that. Sounds like he got a new speech writer...did he fire the old one?

    Obama has been giving the similar style speech forever now. What he is gonna do. Too late now McCain.. GO HOME! And isnt if funny how after Obama says he will detail out his plan, McCain all of a sudden has a turnaround speech? LOL.. I think we got HIM where we want HIM LoL~!!!

    I vote for THE MAN WITH A PLAN.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  9. LRB

    ...and just what are Obama and Biden doing, tsm? Telling the people what they want ti hear, that's what...It's called politics!

    October 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Surprise

    How long this palin lady will go without talking to the media.. are the US ready to elect this person without knowing who she is really.... She is the one who should tell us who she is...we already know Obama...

    October 13, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Vivian


    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  12. Donkey Party

    TAINOPOWER October 13th, 2008 11:29 am ET

    List for obama Acorn of people that is illegal to register to vote during any election

    1-dead people(zombies)
    2-illegal alien (yes little green people to)
    3-criminals ( person w/a criminal record)
    4-fictional characters (mama joe or papa joe)
    5-cartoon characters (mickey mouse , scooby doo)
    6- super heroes (superman , spider man , ironman)
    7- new people ( babies , children , not of age to vote)
    8-crazy people ( a person w/ mental problems)
    9- and many other reasons

    personal comment: if McCain losses this election is because obamas fraud machine Acorn.

    How stupid do the Republicans think people are? Do they think we're supposed to believe that ACORN would make such blatantly obvious mistakes if in fact it were responsible for these "irregularities"? This is just part of the larger fear and smear campaign, and a tool to control lesser advantaged citizens from voting. What sane person could possibly consider voting RepubliCON anyway?

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  13. Anna, VA

    Every Republican I know is voting for Obama. Honestly, this election is going to be a blowout. The media isn't accounting for young voters (cell phones instead of home phones), the turnout of black voters, and the fact that every disenchanted Republican will be going to the polls to vote for Obama.

    I'm expecting at least 10 point win for Obama in VA, and he will win NC, GA, and maybe LA too.

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  14. C Shaw

    Where is the DIVERSITY in the Republican Party?

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  15. Theogracias

    These two show the importance of doing well in school. Ambition will only take you so far, hate will give you a boost...then crashing down you go.

    A pair of self-promoting frauds.

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  16. Ken in Dallas

    Team America, your easy choice ignores, or is simply ignorant of, the fact that laissez-faire/supply-side/trickle-down/Reaganomics has failed this year in EXACTLY THE SAME WAY it failed in 1929, and the fact that the strategy that's beginning to work to prevent a new Depression is complete anathema to your chosen dogma.

    Face it. If we want to make this nation economically viable again, we have to fire the foxes guarding the hen house. Laissez-faire doesn't work. Markets work, but if we don't recognize their limitations, they self-destruct with great reliability. This is the essential issue of the election: do we cling to the bankrupt policies of the 19th century, or do we deal with the realities of the present?

    McCain is of the past. He demonstrates daily that he has nothing to offer to the future.

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  17. Hatred drove us away

    I love the grace and poise and commitment of BOTH Clintons.

    Obama denied me the ability to vote for the BEST candidate in this election cycle- Hillary Clinton. He hated on Hillary. Y'all know it.

    I will not reward his hatred, treachery and ugly politics with my vote.

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Independent for Obama!!

    If Mccain/Palin run our country the way they have been running their campaign, we will definitely see another four years of the same. And by the way Mccian/Palin, this is looking forward. In order to succeed in the future you must look at the past and the mistakes we made, and we made a mistake and we're looking forward. We're voting Obama/Biden.

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Jim

    @ TAINOPOWER. While I do hope everyone involved in the enethical acts of making phone voter registrations get their due justice, voter frauded isn't actually committed until votes are made. So if on Nov 4 Mickey Mouse, Iron Man and zombies vote, then there is voter fraud. Who knows, maybe Super man and Spider man are conservatives!

    October 13, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. MLD ND

    The turnaround should have been dumping Palin and finding a running mate that isn't a carbon copy of the Bush/Cheney agenda. She can run around the country saying she did nothing wrong in Alaska, but the facts are the facts. What's really scary is that she doesn't think she did anything wrong and that's where the big problem lies.

    October 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. Amy

    It amazes me that McCain thinks we will forget about his past history of deregulation which has played a HUGE part in getting into the mess we are in! I will not forget and my vote on Nov. 4th will reflect that.

    October 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. We are ALL "That One"

    @TAINOPOWER October 13th, 2008 11:29 am ET

    The only Acorns to worry about are the ones in John McCains cheeks.

    These are GW Bush's acorns.

    Obama 08

    October 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. Proud to be American

    McCain you are going down... you are losing ground with your own base.... give it up buddy it is over.... no one want to hear your lies

    October 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    By the way – 7 white adults in my family will be voting for Obama/Biden Thursday, Oct. 16 – vote early America. Let's seal the deal and get back to OUR Constitution.

    October 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Jackson

    "My Friends" McCain is in a panic mode now. Might be time to pull out the POW card, again.... You're toast "my friend", my advice get off the tracks before the Obama-Biden Express runs you over.

    October 13, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
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