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. Jerry, Illinois`

    I just love to watch John McCain on the campaign
    platform making a speech with Cindy on one side
    and Sarah one the other.
    He looks like the Hugh Hefner of politics.

    October 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  2. Carl from MI

    McCain's campain is DYING, in it's last throes of death...

    it's flopping around like a fish out of water, gasping for breath...

    soon his campaign will be nothing more than history...

    and Sarah Palin's career will disappear like a good mystery!!!


    October 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  3. You Can Run But You Can Not Hide!

    Has McCain lost leadership controll over his campaign? How come that Palin is today saying dangerous things against Obama in contradicton to what McCain says he stands for? McCain how come Palin is dividing USA between "Bad Guys" (when someone shouted Obama, Palin continued to say that "they mingle with terrorists, that hate us" and "Good Guys")? McCain you are either behind all that Palin is saying 100% or you no longer have full control over leadership of his campaign! In any case what is on-going with McCain's campaign gives us a window how he is going to run USA if given the opportunity to be the next President, and it is REALLY SCARY!!! McCain I promise you one thing that if anyone is HURT because of the hate that Palin, YOU AND PALIN WILL BE INSTANTLY BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE!

    October 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  4. The Laughing Man!

    Watch what u say! Its gunna be a blast

    October 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  5. Fed Up

    It is obvious McCain is in deep trouble if he has to continuously campaign with Palin. Either A) He does not trust her and has to watch over her or B) He does not have the support himself and needs her to draw a crowd. Barack Obama and Joe Biden have barely been seen in the same location since the announcement of JB being VP nominee was made. It took John McCain several more days to make his "Maverick" pick, an unvetted choice and look how well that has turned out for him. Both of them have been found to have ethics violations by courts of law. If his campaign is any indication of how John McCain plans to govern, "Thanks, but NO THANKS"!!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  6. Rodger

    Acorn, registers Repulicans and Democrats. Donkey Party is as ignorant as Sarah Palin!

    October 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  7. Central Florida

    Obama is making significant gains by offering Americans calm, positive leadership in these challenging times.

    McCain is losing ground by his erratic behaviors, gimmicks, and Karl Rove tactics, which he used to speak against. Eight is enough.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  8. JL

    Why does CNN keep touting how great these two are when they constantly snub you?

    CNN isn't really biased one way or the other, but you sure do give McCain/Palin more credit than they deserve, considering they have been stirring up hate and racism (don't censor me for this remark, please) and committing abuse of power ethics violations...It is OK to point that out, you know. If Obama did the same, you would have buried him by now.

    They can't pull it out in the next 3 weeks but they can continue to play you and other news organizations like a fiddle and you will keep falling for it because it is in your corporate interest to do so.

    October 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  9. Wayne, Greenville TX

    "We have 22 days to go. We're 6 points down," he's expected to say.

    Abd ub a few more weeks, Gramps McCain will be saying, "We have 6 days to go. We're 22 points down." 🙂

    October 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  10. Ross in MD

    New poll out in North Dakota:
    Obama beats McCain by 2 points.

    John, why don't you and Caribou Barbie go over there? I don't want you too close to my own state.

    October 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  11. barbara campbell

    McCain/Palin's handlers are obviously in panic mode. The Fear & Smear tactics are backfiring, and they have nothing left except bluster and lies.

    October 13, 2008 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. No Fan of Barracuda

    Honestly, this campaign is spinning so hard they may just fall over by
    Nov. 4 with a collective case of vertigo. Palin's convinced she did nothing wrong in Troopergate, the top finding of the investigation notwithstanding. McCain sends out surrogates to lay the foundation for "bold new plans" only he can't decide on any. He attacks Obama, has to retreat from his supporter's ugliness, but keeps running the ads that riled the people up in the first place.

    Seriously, folks – make sure you give the McCain campaign a wide berth, or they might just fall on you.

    October 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  13. Belle Ugosa

    Ah yes...get yur popcorn on yur way in folks!!
    ...on the left...the Ringmaster, of the greatest show on earth
    ...on the right..Johno the clown and his dancin Palin Poodle.

    God, PLEASE bless America!!

    October 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. Frank

    John McCain is still John McSame and he'll say anything to get elected. If he does, we'll be big trouble, more that anyone realizes. A Friend of mine who was a POW the same time and place the McCain was POW told me a lot interesting stories. He and a lot of other POW's are positive that John McCain is the real Manchurian Candidate. I had my doubts and he told me to just Google "John McCain + Manchurian Candidate". I did and boy did it open my eyes. Try it yourself, there's over 10 pages on Google about it.

    Is John McCain the Real Manchurian Candidate?

    October 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  15. TRBoston

    Do his speechwriters seriously put "My friends" into his prepared speeches?

    October 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  16. That One

    Stump all you want. I don't think the Southern states are that vastly different from any other state. We want a leader, a thinker and someone who is surrounded by people who are less interested in divide and conquer and more interested in solving problems.

    Obama '08

    October 13, 2008 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  17. M. WINNERS

    I'm still listening to CNN and McCain's blabbering – Sounds like he's finally waving the "white flag of surrender" and has adopted most all of Obama's ideas on the economy.

    I guess McCain knows how to steal a good idea when he hears one...

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  18. Still for Hill but now ONLY for Hill

    My need for change pales against my desire to preserve the democratic process and fair campaigns.

    I have NOT forgotten what Obama did to HRC during the divisive, vitriolic democratic primaries.

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  19. john

    sounds like desperation to me...

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. hometowndemocrat

    Now John McCain is trying comedy..................

    "we've got them just where we want them......................."


    Good one, John!

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  21. Amber, VA

    I just saw a poll where Obama is up 2 points in North Dakota (Obama 45; McCain 43). WOW! No wonder McCain is playing defense. But the point of the matter is, I hope McCain realizes that he is not the change this country needs at this time in our history. His ideas are old and outdated; his foreign policy has been rejected by the American people; and that the very poor choice of his VP has proved that he lacks the judgment necessary to lead us in the new era.

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  22. Independent

    Right now McCain is giving a new hate speech to his mob. Plain and simple lies to make the GOP to the party of stupid. It just does not look like the majority is that stupid.

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  23. HUH?

    Can't stand to even listen to these lying hypocritical christians speak!

    Fight Fight Fight... that is the only true thing coming out if his mouth.
    If McCain Palin wins we will see more war and desparation around the world that we have seen from the bush administration.

    I cannot believe the ignorance of some people.

    Turn out at the polls folks... Vote for what you believe in never mind the BS.

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  24. CPW

    If the "figher speech" is McMaverick's big turnaround...he's screwed. He has said nothing and has no real ideas so what's he fighting? I think the poor old man just likes a fight.

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  25. Jimbo

    McCain and Palin represent the last gasp of a generation that would rather re-fight Viet Nam and act like "liberal" is a dirty word than join us in the 21st century. Wars that attempt to impose American corporate interests on people on the other side of the world don't succeed, and only cost money and blood, and inflame world-wide anti-Americanism.

    The Republican Party needs to wake up: Most of America, on an issue-by-issue basis, is liberal, from foreign policy to economic policy to abortion to race relations.

    Stoking the yahoos with a nut job like Sarah Palin is a shallow, transparent gimmick that appeals to a shrinking constituency that is rapidly coming to have as little relevance to the future of The Republican Party as Wavy Gravy has to the Democratic Party.

    If you want to bring people together, you have to stand among them, not lurch over to the far right and shout at them.

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
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