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North Carolina's pivotal primary day has arrived

Posted May 5, 2008
Updated May 6, 2008

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— Voters across the state prepared to cast crucial ballots Tuesday that could sway a historic race for the White House and an equally competitive campaign for the Executive Mansion.

An announcement Monday evening that Sen. Barack Obama will hold his election night party in Raleigh capped a day of campaigning in the state by every major presidential candidate.

Obama and his wife, Michelle, will watch the returns from North Carolina's primary in North Carolina State University's Reynolds Coliseum. The event is open to the public, but tickets are required. You can request a ticket on Obama's Web site.

The final day before the primary saw a flurry of campaign activity by Obama; his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton; presumptive Republican nominee Sen. John McCain; and the three candidates' spouses.

Clinton spoke at a train depot in High Point, where she was joined by Gov. Mike Easley and his son, Michael.

"She’s got what it takes. She’s ready, she’s tough, she’s smart," Easley said, calling Clinton his "best buddy."

"I wish I could bottle what I knew about Hillary Clinton and just give North Carolina a little sip. ... it's addictive," the governor said.

Obama spoke to 100 workers at Cree, a maker of light-emitting diodes and other high-tech equipment, in Research Triangle Park, – then made an unannounced stop at coffee shop in downtown Durham.

"I want your vote, and I want it badly," Obama said.

While speaking in Charlotte, McCain declined to speculate on whom he thought he would be running against in November.

"Very likely, it's going to come down to the starkest choice Americans have ever faced," McCain said, adding, "I'm confident I'll win it (the election), and I want to win it here in North Carolina."

All three candidates focused on economic issues in their speeches.

"I'm really campaigning on a central belief, "Clinton said. "This election is about jobs, jobs, jobs – good jobs."

Clinton noted that High Point has been hit hard by knocks to the furniture industry and called for raising taxes on the highest-earning Americans. She also proposed renegotiating trade agreements and doing away with tax incentives for foreign exports.

"The wealthy have gotten wealthier," she said. "Well, bless their hearts, everybody else should be able to benefit."

Both Obama and McCain emphasized that current economic troubles demand changes from companies, workers and communities.

"We could transform our economy for the amount of money that we're spending in Iraq on an annual basis, transform it, put millions of people to work," Obama said.

The economy has "gone from the old industrial era to the Information Age," McCain said. "We should not fear that change. ... We need to take the actions necessary to keep our economy growing and back on its feet again."

Clinton and Obama tried to draw contrasts between themselves by pointing out their differing views on suspending the federal gas tax for the summer – a plan first proposed by McCain.

"Sen. McCain wants to have a gas tax holiday, but he doesn't want to pay for it," Clinton said. "Sen. Obama wants you to pay the gas tax this summer."

"You eliminate the gas tax, and the oil companies simply make up the difference. ... They sop up whatever perceived savings the consumers might have," Obama said. "We no longer have that money going into our Highway Trust Fund that builds roads and bridges."

Obama urged investment in alternative energy sources and said the public needs to be better educated about energy efficiency.

He claimed that a key difference between himself and Clinton is whom they accept money from in the campaign.

"(We have) a difference in attitudes about special interests in Washington and how much they dominate the debate," he said. "I don't take money from lobbyists."

Spouses tout their candidates

The spouses of all three candidates touted the virtues and strengths that they claimed will make their wife or husband the best candidate to be the next president.

Former President Bill Clinton has been the most active campaigner on behalf of his spouse in North Carolina. He made nine stops Monday in the eastern and central parts of the state and planned four more appearances for Tuesday.

"If you send her a big vote here, you will send a message heard around this country: 'We want to win the White House to change this country, and she's our girl,'" Clinton said.

Michelle Obama scheduled stops in Charlotte and Fayetteville, where she spoke to a small crowd, mostly women, at Fort Bragg. She said that families need more support while their spouses are deployed, including higher pay, counseling and studies on how deployments affect children.

Michelle Obama said Americans have to understand "that when we deploy, we are not just deploying soldiers, we're deploying families."

Cindy McCain introduced her husband as "a marvelous man," who possesses "great integrity."

North Carolina's primary on Tuesday will divide 115 convention delegates between the two Democratic presidential candidates as they try to settle their historic race for the White House. The vote will conclude a three-week barnstorm of the state after Clinton's win in Pennsylvania extended her hopes.


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  • souljp1 May 6, 2008

    All I can say is if Clinton will not take what the economists pros
    have to say into account, then it clearly shows she will not listen to them if elected....but all you Clinton lovers know that.. STEPHANOPOULOS: But can you name an economist who thinks this makes sense?

    CLINTON: Well, I'll tell you what, I'm not going to put my lot in with economists, because I know if we get it right, if we actually did it right, if we had a president who used all the tools of the presidency, we would design it in such a way that it would be implemented effectively.

  • 3forme May 5, 2008

    after tomorrow most of you folks will still have the same old lame arguements for each side..meanwhile the country is still headed down hill and will until someone has the guts to use the resources we already have and stop worrying about the salamanders and the polar bears.. keep voting for the same folks and you will get the same for your socialist democrats and they will have us paying 7.00 for gas and a 50 percent tax rate like they do in the uk..young people you had better listen cause you are going to be paying all these giveaway programs...time to wake up before your country as you know it disappears..

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama May 5, 2008

    It seems that older people fear change when a Marxist like Obama talks about increasing the taxes on those who have worked for a living and giving it to those who choose to sit on their behinds and live off of government assistance instead of working for a living.

    That's why Hillary attracts the over 40 vote in the Democrat Party.

  • Just Ice May 5, 2008

    bs101fly: "create the end of "same ole" politics by voting NO to Clinton tomorrow and send the message that Obama brings hope, change and a future for us all!!!"

    A vote for Obama is a vote for McCain and a vote for McCain is a vote for Bush.

  • bs101fly May 5, 2008

    create the end of "same ole" politics by voting NO to Clinton tomorrow and send the message that Obama brings hope, change and a future for us all!!!

  • Just Ice May 5, 2008

    TheAdmiral: "I don't know what kind of coolaide your snorting - but let's look back a bit."

    Oh, and don't forget these Republicans: Bob Ney, Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Lewis Libby, Mark Foley, and Larry Craig.

    Oh, and don't forget Hurricane Katrina (heck of a job Brownie), Walter Reed Army Medical Center, U.S. Attorney Scandal, Valerie Plame Scandal.

    Oh, and don't forget the Republicans haven't killed or captured Osama bin Laden, the mastermind and organizer of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

    Oh, and don't forget the Republicans lost both houses of congress in 2006 (Mission Accomplished).

    Oh, and don't forget that a new poll suggests that George W. Bush is the most unpopular president in modern American history.

  • Sumo Vita May 5, 2008

    Right-o, "Admiral". So you've alleged 15 transgressions by including ALL democratic politicians since the '70s.

    How underwhelming.

    If anyone here had the time to compile every last occurence of idiocy, incompetence, corruption and criminal acts perpetrated on this country by ALL GOP politicians starting with Nixon down through Bush, there'd be multiple volumes of transgressions to document. The Guinness book of records would get involved. It probably wouldn't be completely read in your lifetime or mine.

    It certainly wouldn't be just two or three tedious posts to wade through - I could tabulate more than 15 transgressions by your precious Dubya and his henchmen alone. That you even bother to defend this administration is remarkable, in a sad and pitiful way.

    But congratulations on being part of the rapidly shrinking 29%. I'm sure they could do with all the cheerleaders they can get.

  • 007KnightRider May 5, 2008

    Former President Bill Clinton has the highest approval rating at 65%, the highest end of office rating of any President since World War II.

  • Just Ice May 5, 2008

    wralblog: "George Bush is also the most popular President in history."

    Could you post a reliable source to back up that comment? If not, take a look at the link below. It's from a much more reliable source.

    Your comment is actually pretty funny. It is a joke...right?

  • JustAName May 5, 2008

    Just Ice,
    Were you born after 1980? Cause, Jimmy Carter is the worst President this country has seen.

    George Bush is also the most popular President in history.