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. independent in Texas

    Oh my God, at rally McCain is in right now, key words was "anger", fight, fight, fight, stand up and fight !!!! more words to incite more anger, and fighting amongst americans..dividing the country straight down the middle..does he want another racial war, civil war ??? if this makes me sound afraid, I AM..we are tired of fighting, in wars, for our homes, against rising food prices, taxes, ( Obamas tax plans are for US), fighting to keep our jobs...NO more fighting ..PLEASE..and CNN, other tv stations, please STOP with the racism stories..your now guilty TOO, of keeping those thoughts alive..Obama is half WHITE too !!! this is absurd ..Obama IS a very 'cool" level headed man of integrity, education ( that he fought hard to get) has best plans FOR the people..use your heads..check out facts..

    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  2. Unshrub

    He is shifting to plan B. That is where he is working for the RNC to try and keep from loosing too many republican Congressmen because they know he will not win the Presidency.

    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  3. Eugene

    And the Cubs have the Dodgers where they want them. If SEn. Obama campaigning very hard is "measuring the drapes in the White House", then "measure on!"

    October 13, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. LT for Obama

    Just got finished listening to McCain's speech. So much for a turn around. Still spouting the same lies about Obama, added a couple of new ones and has a Fight, Fight, Fight message at the end while also adding in his POW stuff at the beginning. Basically, he has taken parts of different speeches and combined them into one. So much for change.

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. KJL

    I'm beginning to think Cindy McCain chose Palin as McCain's running-mate. She has started to show an overtly nasty streak, and the two women are thick as thieves. They both seem to too feel the need to babysit John, too.

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  6. Bill

    Virginia will go blue by at least 5 points. NC will be a little closer. For those who continue to support John McCain, please read the article in this months Rolling Stone magazine called "Make Believe Maverick." The jounalist who investigated McCains' record in the Navy and as a POW uncovered some very disturbing information about his behavior.

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  7. kendal

    McCain lost the election starting with the Republican Convention. It demonsatrated his lack of judgement by choosing Ghoulish Giuliani as the keynote speaker spewing hatred and division and it has carried on throughout his campaign. There is nothing inspiring about the McCain-Palin ticket.

    Obama-Biden 08'

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  8. Purple Alaska


    "Pilot in tailspin!"

    Lie Baby Lie!

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. Republicans= Me First Country Last

    I think it will be close in NC but in the end Obama will pull it off. I live in a normally Republican area. In my neighborhood out of about 20 houses at least 15 are for Obama. I've got many Republican family members voting for Obama. Their breaking point was the Palin pick.

    Register and Vote Early in NC beginning Thursday thru Nov 1!!!!

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Lisa

    I thought he had Obama right where he wanted him? Shouldn't he be somewhere getting some sun and relaxing since he talks like he is not worried. McCain is being erratic again, is he worried or not?

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Wally© Belgium

    I just saw his 'big turnaround' speech on ccn.com live...

    I'm afraid 'that ain't gonna cut it, John !!!"

    There was really nothing substantial in his or Palin's speech that even remotely suggests a big swing in his campaign...let alone the polls...

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. david Armendale, SF, CA

    McSame has spun himself into a hole of delusion. Being down six points in the polls is right where he wants to be? He can't even be honest with himself anymore let alone the American people. I feel sorry for him and his deluded followers.

    Obama '08

    October 13, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Sam

    CNN...Stop reporting on the race issue and start reporting on Sarah Palin blatantly lying about the ethics investigation and the misleading remarks we hear at every McCain/Palin speech. You are allowing them to create "truth," for goodness sake, start keeping them honest again! You're driving us crazy! How are these issues getting no attention? Especially the ethics investigation which Palin now claims clears her of all unethical activities! You did report that the investigation concluded exactly the opposite, right?

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Bob Indianapolis IN

    For folks watching the debates on Wednesday: Be very careful plating the "MY FRIENDS" drinking game...You can get pretty hammered!

    At this point, judging from the total diversity of the crowd last week in Indianapolis who came out to listen to Obama, I'd say only the lowest common denominator is left as McSame and Caribou Barbie's "base."

    Perhaps we should start calling them "debased"...

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. Brian

    McCain is going to lose Virginia hands down. He should pull out like he did in Michigan.

    Obama is also going to win:
    North Dakota
    West Virginia
    North Carolina

    And one of the following will be an upset:
    Georgia, Mississippi, Montana or Lousiana

    McCain should just stick to campaigning in his friendly territories of Kentucky, Oklahoma, Arizona and Utah where they're still actually buying the B.S. his ticket is selling.

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  16. josephine

    I was wondering if McCain/Palin dont make it to the White House, will she be back as governor of Alaska? How does that work?

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  17. Colorado for Obama

    Forget it McSenile; it's over.

    Obama/Biden '08 and '12

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  18. hello

    What Kind of words John McCain is selecting in his speeches is mind boggling.
    He is going to 'WHIP OBAMA' looks like racist to me.

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  19. Anonymous

    "we got them right where we want them" if that means you wanted them to staying on message and be presidential and out debate you on your area of expertise then good for you McCain. Give me a break.

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  20. bill

    Another grasp from the republicans to influence voters. they are behind in the polls and continue to lie while saying they are giving us "straight talk". mcCainis the only one measuring for drapes becuz he's convinced he can win w/his negative ads and attitude. with so many new ideas and strategies it makes me wonder what took him so long to join the race for president. He still not being truthful not is he believeable and neither is his running mate.

    October 13, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  21. Speider

    There are still those who are whining about Hillary not getting the nomination and will "show us all" by voting for McCain? Yes, it will show us all...how foolish you truly are.

    Vote the ideals and not the person.

    October 13, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. LIP

    The media has been highly successful at destroying and belittling the image of Sarah Palin. From condeming her for giving birth to a child with Downs syndrom to attempting to destroy her daughter with the lies about her forthcoming marrriage to attempting to make us believe that it is wrong to complain about an out of control cop who is threatening her family by asking someone to do something about it. Suddenly that becomes unfit for a Governor...I think it is what any one of us would do if in the same situation.
    Give her a break and give McCain a break...he isn't joined at the hip with Bush and never has been. Thje media would like us to believe it though.

    October 13, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  23. leigh

    To those still on the fence; I don't see how you failed to decide on a candidate by now. If you choose McCain then you run the risk of being labeled a nut that populate his rallies. If you choose Obama then you've made an intelligent, informed choice and we welcome you to better economic times, transparency in government and real leadership that will re-establish our fine reputation in the world. Choose Obama 08

    October 13, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  24. FLforObama08

    *yawns* This guy is still here?
    I thought it was hilarious that JMac is now taking excerpts from Obama's old speeches. Shows true signs of desperation. At least he's focusing on the issues now, a tad late though with 22 days from the election.

    Obama-Biden 08!!!!!! No way, no how, no McCain/Palin!

    October 13, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  25. John in Ohio

    "3-criminals ( person w/a criminal record)"

    Wrong. People with a criminal record can vote. It's legal to register them to vote. You're thinking of disenfranchisement as a result of a felony conviction. Each state has different laws on that, in some states it is legal for a felon to vote. In other states, only certain types of felony convictions will remove voting rights. Only Kentucky and Virginia impose a life-long denial of voting rights to all felons.

    And of course, you can have a criminal record with misdemeanor convictions, and still be allowed to vote. Petty theft doesn't result in disenfranchisement, something for which many Republicans should be thankful.

    "8-crazy people ( a person w/ mental problems)"

    Good thing they don't enforce that, or no Republicans would ever get elected.

    October 13, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
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