Raleigh, N.C. — Gov. Jim Hunt finished his fourth term as North Carolina's chief executive more than a decade ago, but he still has enough pull among state residents to be called out on the campaign trail.
Hunt is visiting homes in middle-class neighborhoods across the state over the next month, starting with a stop in Raleigh on Friday, to drum up support for President Barack Obama in what national observers say is among a handful of battleground states.
"I think the campaign is nip and tuck in North Carolina, but would the Obama folks have ever thought two to three years ago they'd be even? I think they're even today," Hunt said.
The group of voters Hunt met with – stay-at-home mothers, a small-business owner and a high-technology professional – already are in Obama's camp, but he hopes they will spread the word to undecided voters statewide that Obama has the best plan for the nation's future.
"I know things are tough out there – not everyone has gotten a job yet – but things are coming back," he said.
Hunt has seen the best and worst of voter attitudes in his political career and acknowledges some North Carolina residents simply don't like Obama because of his race. Still, he said, he senses a change in such attitudes.
"I think those feelings are softening," he said. "I've talked with a lot of people – white people and African-Americans – who say, 'This guy understands me, and the other fellow doesn't understand me.'"