CHARLOTTE, N.C. — North Carolina is seeing more of the presidential candidates then it has in years. Both sides are working to shore up support in this newly-minted battleground state.
Sen. John Edwards took a moment Sunday during his visit to Charlotte to talk strategy with WRAL's Gerald Owens.
North Carolina has become increasingly important in the presidential election -- so important that Edwards' appearance came just two days after John Kerry visited Charlotte.
"We campaign together; we campaign separately," Edwards said. "I was going to be here this weekend. He was here a couple of days before, so we could have both of us in the state within a few days."
The polls show the Kerry/Edwards ticket narrowing the gap in North Caroina -- a state Democrats have not won since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
"I expect the polls are going to go up and down," Edwards said. "I think when we get to October, and people are very focused on who they want their president to be, they're going to look for a vision, a positive vision for the country, and who has ideas about how to get us there.
"When that judgement comes, I feel very good about our chances."
The Democratic candidates have made two stops in the Tar Heel state since Edwards was named Vice Presidential nominee. Both times, Democratic Gov. Mike Easley was a no-show. Edwards said he is not bothered by it.
"Mike Easley and I are very good friends," Edwards said. "He and I talk to each other all the time. More importantly than us being personal friends is that we work together on the things that matter to North Carolina."
Much of Edwards' role has been chief defender of John Kerry. In October, he gets his chance in the spotlight in the Vice Presidential debate.
When asked if he was looking forward to the debate with Dick Cheney, Edwards said: "I don't know.
"I'd say I would never underestimate Vice President Cheney."
In the last few months, Edwards' popularity and influence have grown considerably. But he said it has not changed him one bit.
"You never forget where you come from," he said. "The things I learned growing up in the small town in North Carolina are with me all the time. I haven't changed.
""I'm still the same person I've always been. I'll always be the same person."
Edwards also talked about ads questioning Sen. Kerry's war record. Edwards called the attacks a lie and said President George W. Bush should call for the ads to come off the air.
Republicans are not backing down. Former presidential candidate Bob Dole said Kerry owes Vietnam vets an apology.
"He's a good guy, good friend, I respect his record," Dole said. "But three Purple Hearts and never bled that I know of --all superficial wounds. Three purple hearts, and you're out.
"I think Sen. Kerry needs to talk about his senate record, which is pretty thin. That's probably why he's talking about his war record, which is pretty confused."
Meanwhile, a Vietnam veteran who appeared in ads questioning Kerry's war record resigned as a volunteer for the Bush campaign. The campaign said it did not know he was part of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.