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. Enough

    A house divided: "That hate and vulgarity and filth- coming from the Obama camp was worse than anything ANY republican can ever do."

    You must be blind, deaf and dumb. When is the last time we heard
    people at an Obama rally screaming "terrorist" or "Kill him"? McCain has run a campaign based on hate, smears and inuendo

    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. 12 HOUSES to O


    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. Rodger

    I have heard McCain in Virginia...most of his cheers came after he spoke in positive tones for what Obama has been speaking about for the last 2 years. Now, all he needs is to wear an Obama for Prsident button!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. facts are facts


    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. Mike M.

    Can we just go to the polls now?


    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  6. Jude

    Its over if Obama/Biden can win either of these two states!!!! North Carolina lets do it for Obama just like we did it for him in the primaries....We will make history if we do so!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Kiah G

    Obama supporters don't get too excited! Republicans see these numbers so expect for some serious voter fraud come November. Things can not and will not be allowed to go on this way.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Bo

    Until recently, I was a registered Republican. Now, I am an Independent. I am happily, proudly, and eagerly voting for Obama/Biden on Nov. 4th. The clique of Bush, and, yes, McCain, that includes you, has badly damaged us all. Preemptive war, borrow and spend, nation building, fear-mongering, these people do not represent true Republican values. There is not a real conservative among them. More and more pragmatic and solid conservatives are crossing the aisle to vote for Obama. As the newest Nobel laureate, Professor Krugman, said, the Republicans have become "the party of stupid." Those of us who still have critical thinking skills are supporting the better candidate for a strong American future. Obama/Biden.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  9. Fair play would be nice

    Ain't about race.

    It is about memory.

    Will people remember what Obama did to HRC- the hate, the insults, the sexual derision, the accusations of racism- and then STILL pull the lever for the dirty chicago style politician?

    I hope NOT.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. Palin is a Patriot Act

    Yawn! Saw the new McCain stump speech. FEAR FEAR FEAR. OOOGA BOOOGA. Daddy will save you. No new ideas. No new concepts. Just more nonsense. GO OBAMA!

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. Nate

    Things are looking hopeful around here...
    PS – To all you Obama haters: Acorn is not connected to Obama, although I know the republicans would love that. The fraudulent voter registrations are a result of a few folks that wanted to make some extra cash so forged some registration forms. Simple as that. Barack doesn't need fake registration forms with the support he and Biden have.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  12. Boris and Natasha

    Boris and Natasha are spreading more lies in Virginia today..That all they have left to do is lie.. lie.. lie.. He has no real policiies to get this country moving in the right direction..Sounds like he has been stealing line for Obama speeches .. For Real Change vote Obama/Biden.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  13. no fear

    I have listened to both parties equally, and I am still not convinced McCain is offering us anything beneficial–from my perspsective.

    I certainly don't see McCain, let alone Palin, helping us much in foreign affairs. I dislike how the McCain Palin campaign has tried to tie patriotism to loyalty to their party. I am very uneasy with how this campaign has been somewhat complicit in their supporters' derisive, disparaging behavior to the other party. I would expect more from a "leader."

    I do commend McCain recently calling for his supporters to tone down their behavior; unlike Palin, who stood by silently when one of the supporters at her rally yelled, "kill him,' referring to Obama. One more red flag that Palin is not vp material, let alone Presidential material.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  14. Ex-mod-GOP for Obama

    North Carolina, where I live, is Obama country this year.

    October 13, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. Annoyed

    tainopowerand house divided... 3 words for you two = YOU ARE IDIOTS.

    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  16. Clyde Scott

    Is mccain going to veto pork bill for alaska? Palin is not qualifed to poss. run this country. she is a bigot

    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  17. bob in spokane

    Just wait for the story about ACORN comes out and people realize that Obama is committing fraud and that Several Million Dollars of campaign funds have come from an Iraqi and an Iranian.

    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  18. Roger

    We all know that dirty tricks are the Republican mantra. We cannot let up for a minute the next 22 days doing all we can to get out the vote and ensure that Barack Obama and Joe Biden are elected. The thought of another 4 years of the past 8 is frightening and should call all of us to action in support of Senator Obama. Even here in Texas (which by all accounts will remain a red state), the enthusiasm for Senator Obama is higher than for any Democratic candidate I have seen in many years.

    So, work, work, work and get out the vote. Our country depends on it!

    Obama/Biden for America!!

    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  19. Brielle

    YOU BETCHA they're worried!

    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  20. Joe from Mahwah, NJ

    McCain should leave politics altogether and go to Hollywood where he would be cast as the next Penguin in the Batman franchise.

    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  21. That one is Karl Marxs friend too

    Keep your eye on the mark John.

    John will not raise our taxes
    John will not expand the government like the dems
    John will make sure we are safe
    John will actually DO something instead of phone it in.
    John will fight for ME


    October 13, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  22. Jim

    I hear McCain is also planning to campaign in Alabama and Arizona.

    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  23. bill pike

    i keep asking this one question and get no answers:


    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  24. bernj

    sensible Cape Coral Fl October 13th, 2008 11:38 am ET

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

    How very true!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Erika, KS

    Nope. Nothing desperate about it. McCain is smart. Palin is a survivor. I'm tired of the democrats who chose a man because he is a novelty over the more qualified woman candidate Hillary Clinton.

    I won't support Obama who has not proved he can lead. After eight years of Bush, we need experience. Obama doesn't have it. Palin is another strong woman that men hate and women are jealous of. Just like HIllary. She's been in change of an entire state. Just like Bill Clinton.

    Give her a chance. McCain's not going to kill over the second he is elected. You Obama fans are nuts, and evil, and mean, and hateful. Plus you have engaged in age discrimination. I'm sick of all of you. Get this: Obama can speak well with a teleprompter and a fan-club audience. He went to Harvard. Big deal. Lots of people go to Ivy League schools. That doesn't automatically make them qualified to be president.

    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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