Local Politics

Obama gets last word at Jefferson-Jackson dinner

Posted May 1, 2008
Updated May 2, 2008

— North Carolina takes center stage on Friday night with the Democratic presidential candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, speaking at the party's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

The event was supposed to be a dinner for 500. Now, the dinner crowd has grown to 900, with 4,000 expected to be in the audience to watch the two speak days before the state’s primary on Tuesday.

WRAL.com will carry the speeches — from the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and president — live starting at 7 p.m.

The event will be held at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds’ J.S. Dorton Arena, 1025 Blue Ridge Road, in Raleigh. All attendees are urged to arrive when the doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Jerry Meek, state Democratic Party chair, will welcome the guests and recognize party officials starting at 7 p.m.

Senate candidate, and potential Elizabeth Dole challenger, Jim Neal will be the first to speak.

He will be followed by, in order: gubernatorial candidate Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue and presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton.

Neal's rival for the nomination, State Sen. Kay Hagan, speaks after Clinton. She'll be followed by gubernatorial candidate State Treasurer Richard Moore and remarks from Gov. Mike Easley.

Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama will be last to the lectern.

“It is huge. We’ve never had anything like this. It is clearly unprecedented,” said Meek.

Party officials announced that 100 more tickets are available at the last minute for the previously sold-out event. After crews set up for the event, officials found they had room for 100 more people.

The tickets are on sale for $25 at the J.S. Dorton Arena at the State Fairgrounds. They're available on a first-come, first-served basis until they're sold out.

The candidates will be speaking to an audience filled with key Democrats in the state, including some super-delegates.

“These are the people who are with the party through thick and thin. They are the ones who will get out and work for you. They are the ones who will write checks for you, too,” said political commentator Barlow Herget.

The timing of the event has also brought increased interest. A WRAL news poll released Wednesday showed that Obama's double-digit lead over Clinton among Tar Heel Democrats had dropped to 7 points, with a 5-point margin of error. It found 9 percent of Democrats undecided.

“We’ve seen that in state after state as the election approaches. The polls get tighter and tighter,” Meek said.

Meek said that within the last week, he's seen attention shift from Indiana to North Carolina.

As each candidate tries to win over the undecided voters, Herget suggested that Obama focus on his background and how he relates to the working people of North Carolina.

“I would certainly focus on those things that are important to the crowd. I don’t think the Rev. Wright controversy helps him one bit,” Herget said.

Herget suggested that Clinton continue to talk about the things that helped her win in Pennsylvania, like health care and gas prices. He also said Clinton should play up her endorsement by Gov. Mike Easley.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Tawny May 2, 2008

    Sidebar comments "aside", this is quite a historical event for the Democratic political scene in North Carolina. The comments that have been made indicate that the individuals posting are too young or too immature to appreciate such an event regardless of one's party affiliation.

  • tbonesmitty48 May 2, 2008

    Now that all these young adults are of age to vote most of them do not know what is going on . they looked at him like he is some kind of Messiah a smooth talker with charisma tells them that he can fix the world I expect the next words out of his mouth is to shut up and drink your Kool-Aid. As Mr. Jones would say. even if you save a couple of hundred dollars on gasoline over the summer at least it is something it is better than not doing anything. I still don't know if I'm voting for Mrs. Clinton or Mr. McCain they all have an agenda when it comes to the government the agenda is to separate us from our money without hearing us cry about it.

  • casp3r May 2, 2008

    whatelseisnew= They also said they were going to end the war and bring all the troops home. Hmmmm

  • whatelseisnew May 2, 2008

    Ah yes someone with a small mind and little knowledge. The modern day problems with have go back to LBJ. The immigration problem spans multiple presidents and multiple congresses. I spoke in my post specifically about GASOLINE. The Dems said they would do something. I would say 16 months is ample time for them to have done something. The point you missed is - they lied. They knew they would do nothing, it was only about winning congressional seats. Now in fairness, pretty much all of them lie. You would be better served to remove your partisan blinders and really pay attention to what they will do, not what they say. And then understand what will happen as a result of what they will do. Then you vote. But that would take some actual time and effort and rational thought and research. Since you could not read through a small post and comprehend it, I expect you will not take the trouble.

  • Bob Sidel May 2, 2008

    mission accomplished

  • casp3r May 2, 2008

    "And, don't blame the mess on the election of 2006. The democrats did not gain control of the congress until 2007. If you seriously think that the problems we face are caused by the last fifteen months then you must be devoid of any intellectual capacity."

    Can you or anyone else name a lower rated congress?

  • wildervb May 2, 2008

    "I'm sure T. Jefferson and A. Jackson would be turning in their graves."

    They probably would be, our nation realy has moved forward a great deal in the last 100 years.

  • Iamcornholio May 2, 2008

    I'm sure T. Jefferson and A. Jackson would be turning in their graves.

  • seankelly15 May 2, 2008

    whatelseisnew - "...to the remnants of what was once a great country". Oh, so you now realize the damage that the Bush administration has caused. And, don't blame the mess on the election of 2006. The democrats did not gain control of the congress until 2007. If you seriously think that the problems we face are caused by the last fifteen months then you must be devoid of any intellectual capacity.

  • chemtechii May 2, 2008

    I love how you republicans think you own the rights to those words "anti-American" and "terrorist." Anyone who disagrees with you must be "anti-American." I think you're anti-American for supporting a war where "Americans" are killed on a daily basis---not to protect our freedoms but to protect and stabilize a country that I couldn't care less about. That's un-American!