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. GW - Stl

    I'm curious to see if the whole ACORN thing with Obama turns out to be the McCain people and Republicans setting them up. Sounds like their brand of politics!

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  2. Jill American

    I think 'first dude' of Alaska ought to step aside and get out of the view of the camera ... up there waving all the time .. he's not runnng for VP. And all you Obamabots were worried about Bill Clinton? Geez!

    October 13, 2008 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  3. Trevor Guerlain

    Hello, CNN: you're making up stories based on travel schedules. There is nothing newsworthy here other than your reporters trying to be provocative.

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  4. Sarah.....and my last name isn't Palin!

    Still no plan...22 days out?!? OUT OF TOUCH!

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  5. Matt, Manchester, CT

    Any of the Obama supporters who seriously believe a southern state will go for the Democratic ticket should just concentrate on Nevade, Colorado, and New Mexico. You're not going to win any state in the South, so don't even bother worrying about it.

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  6. ANGIE

    VA does not want you, PA does not want you, NY does not want you CA does not want you, MI does not want you, CO does not want you if this keeps up the whole map is gonna go BLUE!! YAEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  7. John in Ohio

    'Hatred drove us away':
    "I will not reward his hatred, treachery and ugly politics with my vote."

    But you will reward McCain's hatred, treachery, and ugly politics with your vote?

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. Brenda from Az

    I just listened to McCain's new stump speech. I heard him say several times that Senator Obama will raise taxes. He makes comments that are not true and should not be allowed to get away with it. His group of followers seem fanatical as they shout NOBAMA and yell out at everything that McCain said against Senator Obama. If he turns this election around and becomes the president, I am leaving this country!!

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  9. Kelby from Houston, TX

    AND by the way,
    You should be afraid of losing southern States. I just wish one of those states was TEXAS. If TEXAS went to Obama, I would be sooooooooo happy!

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  10. Gtnaustin

    To little, to late!!!! McCain and Palin have set their place in history as the most divisive, racist candidates in this century. The manner in which they dove head first into divisive, racist politics is so morally reprehensible to the American public that they will go down in history right along side McCarthy - which is exactly where they belong.

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  11. BJ in NC

    They should show worry. Not about being behind in the polls, but how their campaign is run. The McCain/Palin want us to place utmost trust in them, but look at the direction they are taking. They are not saying anything about how they plan to help the average Joe. They do talk about Joe Sixpack, but not everyone is a Joe Sixpack. Some of us ar concerned about the future of our family, jobs, healthcare, and the overall health of the nation's economy. Unfortunately some of us will be distracted by the rhetoric, biases, and un-acknowledged racist views that we hold. Too bad, they have made it about the character of a man with lies (Ie. the ad about the paling around with terrorists) that the truth-o-meter gave them a pants on fire rating this morning. Does America want the truth and what is best for them. VOTE YOUR INTERESTS AND NOT YOUR PREJUDICES AND BIASES.

    October 13, 2008 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  12. SoCal

    I just heard the McCain / Palin speeches in Virginia.

    Just old empty words...

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  13. ohio

    they will not win thats a fact

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. Meg

    A day late and a dollar short, McCain. I'm listening to your new speech – it isn't new, it's MORE OF THE SAME, just like you and Palin will give the American people. You slandered Obama just long enough to incite the lunatic fringe and prey on old prejudices. Now that you've managed to succeed with this questionable accomplishment, you're coming out fighting – if you "have them where you want them", then you must want them in the White House because you haven't a hope in hell of getting there yourself. A has been and an ethics law breaker – what a wonderful heritage. You must be so proud.

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  15. Christine

    McPalin and their advisors are nothing short of shizophrenic. They keep trying to make a point but they change their message every day and now they are implementing yet another strategy. They seem to believe that the American people are hanging on their every word, many of which they have stoplen from their opponent. Obama has been consistent throughout and how one handles a campaign is a strong indication of how steady they will be when in office. The choice is clear: We need a cool head in the White House, not a hot-tempered, unispired candidate who's running-mate is in complete denial of any and all truths. He needs to go back to the Senate with his tail between his legs and she should be impeached.

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  16. Brian

    The only verb John McCain appears to use in his speeches is 'fight'.
    I think a president with a larger lexicon is required.

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  17. Elizabeth

    That hothead old warmonger, McCain and his nasty VP nominee, Palin with her horrible, shrill, screechy, inarticulate voice are the lowest of the low!!! How in the world did the Republicans end up with those two??? God help us all! Obama is a decent, intelligent, healthy, articulate, composed, etc man and he does not deserve all those filthy attacks from those two incompetents!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  18. adele

    We've got them just where we want them. Oh so scary. You are the one that put yourself in this predicament. Your campaign is dysfunctional.

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  19. clean up washington

    Last week the McCain camped claimed Obama has "blind ambition". With this comment "we've got them where we want them" can there be any doubt that this is blind optimism?

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  20. Gambi

    McCain says he can't wait to introduce Sarah Palin to Washington. You betcha they'l just love her because their ethics are the same.
    Looks like another Chaney to me. Wink! Wink!

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  21. Phantom of the Oprah

    We remember the Obama hate against Hillary.

    With the Clintons on the stump- it makes it clear that subverting the democratic process was a bad decision on the part of the democrats.

    We will remember Hillary in NOV.

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  22. Richard

    It's all about JUDGMENT. Experience is worthless if your judgment stinks.

    Obama: War in Iraq would be "dumb"
    McCain: "I believe that we can win an overwhelming victory in a very short period of time" September 29, 2002.

    Obama: VP is Joe Biden
    McCain: VP is Sarah Palin who is not trusted to even give press conferences

    It's all about JUDGMENT.

    October 13, 2008 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  23. CTSadler

    McCain might have served his nation for decades... but he hasn't served it well. McCain's now running Bush's campaign from 2000 but without the evil mastermind Rove behind him.

    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  24. Obama/Biden 100%

    I saw an interview of Cindy McCain where she admitted that SHE chose Sarah Palin to be McSame's running mate. It was not her decision completely, but McSame said it was largely due to Cindy's influence.

    This is not "girlfriends" or any girl power club, this is for the highest two offices in the land. No way will Palin be in either of the positions because she doesn't know a "darn thing" about anything!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  25. bob in L.A.

    It's good to see that Americans are finally realizing we need a change in policy. McCain's OK but Republican ideas aren't.

    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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