Back-to-back visits show 2012 campaign heating up in NC
Posted September 15, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — With Air Force One and Air Force Two touching down on consecutive days at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, the 2012 election seems a lot closer than 14 months away.
Vice President Joe Biden visited Raleigh for a Thursday morning fundraiser less than a day after President Barack Obama was in town for a speech at North Carolina State University to build support for the $447 billion jobs package he sent to Congress this week.
Obama has visited North Carolina five times since his inauguration in 2009, while Biden has been to the state seven times in that period.
"Makes you feel good that we're important enough to get the leaders of our country here," said Val Valentine, a Republican.
Political observers said area residents should get used to seeing presidential candidates stopping in the Triangle in the coming months.
"North Carolina is a key state, so get used to it," Democratic consultant Gary Pearce said.
Biden's visit to the North Hills home of a business executive was to generate money for the Democratic National Committee, which is holding its presidential nominating convention in Charlotte next September. About 60 people paid at least $5,000 each to attend.
"(Obama) came to kind of get the excitement level up. Biden came to fill up the big buckets," Valentine said.
"These are not folks who need to get fired up," said David Parker, chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party. "They're already fired up. They're writing checks. They're out knocking on doors. You got some people in there that wrote some substantial checks."
Political fundraising is a "recession-proof business," Pearce said, adding that it's critical for any candidate trying to win a battleground state like North Carolina.
"Ninety percent of the time, the campaign that raises and spends the most money wins," he said. "You can pay for a ground game that turns out a lot of voters, and that's critical for Democrats and Republicans."
Pearce also said he thinks Biden's visit was a bargain for those who attended. Many political functions charge people 10 times the $5,000 minimum people paid for breakfast with the vice president, he said.