State News

Obama speaks to Charlotte crowd, but McCain doesn't plan to lose N.C.

Posted September 20, 2008
Updated September 21, 2008

— Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama revved up the crowd at rally in downtown Charlotte Sunday as part of an aggressive campaign in North Carolina.

However, McCain campaign officials said they intend to win a state that has been reliably Republican on the national scene for more than three decades.

A crowd quickly gathered after the gates opened at 11 a.m. for the rally along Fourth Street in Charlotte. Obama appeared a little after 1:15 p.m. and spoke primarily on economic issues, including taxes, health care, job creation and infrastructure.

Campaign officials estimated that 20,000 people squeezed inside the rally area and between 5,000 and 10,000 stood outside.

Obama pushed for North Carolina Democratic candidates as well, specifically mentioning Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, state Sen. Kay Hagan and U.S. Congressman Mel Watt.

Obama talked about the turmoil on Wall Street and blamed Republican policies he said McCain is committed to continuing. "We're now seeing the disastrous consequences of this philosophy all around us, on Wall Street as well as Main Street," he said.

Obama criticized a $700 billion economic bailout proposal by President George Bush and Congressional leaders as a "concept with a staggering price tag, not a plan." He said any bailout must be able to recover that money, protect workers and financial institutions and prevent another crisis.

"The circumstances we face require decisive action, because your jobs, your savings and your economy are at risk," Obama said. "There must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money."

McCain campaign officials responded quickly, saying that Obama had not provided a concrete plan for economic recovery as their candidate had.

"Barack Obama called for 'decisive action' while offering no new ideas, policies or concrete solutions – it shows he is just not ready to lead," said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for McCain-Palin 2008.

"John McCain rejected complacency and political calculation in favor of a direct call for updated, effective regulations that will protect Americans' homes, savings and jobs – we cannot afford a directionless driver like Barack Obama."

Obama promised to deliver tax cuts to 95 percent of Americans. "You're more likely to get a tax break under Obama than under the John McCain plan," he said.

North Carolina Republicans objected to that promise and claimed that Obama had voted to raise taxes nearly 100 times as a U.S. senator.

"Barack Obama already has announced plans to raise taxes that will cripple the job growth prospects for small businesses, the engine of job creation in North Carolina," Linda Daves, chairwoman of the state Republican party, said. "(His) running mate just this week called paying higher taxes 'patriotic.' ... It is not unpatriotic to want to save more of your own money to pay for your children's education or to buy a home or just to pay bills."

Obama promised to create 5 million new jobs by "transform(ing) the energy industry." Those jobs would come from activities such as increased production of fuel-efficient cars and manufacturing renewable energy sources.

Improved education will also help American workers compete globally, Obama said. He said he would bring that about by increasing early childhood education, recruiting a "new army of teachers" with higher salaries and more support, and implementing higher educational standards and more accountability.

Students who volunteer for the armed forces, Peace Corps or in their community should be "guaranteed" a college education, Obama said.

Obama promised to reform the health care insurance industry. "I'm going to tell the health insurance companies, 'Do right by your customers, pay the claims you're supposed to pay,'" he said.

Obama said he would "bring the war in Iraq to an end responsibly" and use the military "wisely" by first employing "strong diplomacy."

"We'll not just talk to our friends but talk to our enemies," Obama said.

Bringing about such "real change" will require "steadiness" and "sacrifice" and come with "a cost" but will be possible to achieve if Americans can overcome division and "come together," Obama said.

Fight for North Carolina voters

Jimmy Carter's 1976 victory was the most recent time a Democrat won North Carolina, which carries 15 electoral votes on the eastern edge of a reliably red belt that stretches to Louisiana. Although President George Bush won the state by a wide margin four years ago, North Carolina's booming population has brought a changing electorate.

"This is a state that has obviously grown a great deal," McCain political director Mike DuHaime said. "Any time you have that kind of growth, you see opportunities for change, electorally and otherwise."

And the state's large black population has been galvanized by Obama's candidacy. Registrations among North Carolina blacks are up almost 10 percent this year, while white registrations are up 4 percent.

Despite those changes, DuHaime said he doubts that Obama will win over a large enough segment of North Carolinians.

"Historically, Democrats that have a chance to win in North Carolina are centrist Democrats, and that is certainly not he case with Senator Obama," DuHaime said. "We are very confident that this is a state that we are going to win Nov. 4."

A Time/CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released last week showed the race virtually tied at 48 percent for McCain, 47 percent for Obama.

An Elon University Poll released Friday gave higher favorable ratings to McCain (54 percent) and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (48.6 percent) than to Obama (37.4 percent) and his vice presidential pick, Sen. Joe Biden (40.9 percent). The poll was based on interviews with 411 people statewide and has a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

DuHaime said the GOP plans to open up more offices, for a total of 20 statewide. The McCain campaign has increased advertising in the state. He could not say if a visit by McCain or Palin was in the future.

Obama has been on the air with television ads for months, and visits by his wife, Michelle, and Biden to Charlotte and Greensboro this week provided. Obama's campaign has 30 offices and about 375 paid staff in the state.

DuHaime acknowledged the amount of effort and money Obama has sunk into North Carolina but predicted that investment would not give returns.

"This is a state that Sen. Obama and his campaign have targeted for some time," DuHaime said. "They've put in an extraordinary amount of resources. I don't believe those resources are ultimately going to pay off."


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  • muttley - back by popular demand Sep 22, 2008

    Google DEMOCRATS COOKED THE BOOKS FANNIE MAE and be prepared to pull your hair out.

    Fannie Mae was originally created by the Dems and starting getting out of control with Pres Clinton

    When Fannie Mae was bleeding red ink, the leaders cooked the books so that they would assure themselves of healthy bonuses.
    I blame the repubs for not having the backbone to go after these crooks.

    Why is Sen Dodd still banking chairman?

  • nikkyrelay Sep 22, 2008

    "He may have taken $126K PAC money from Fannie Mae, but that was out of his control."

    This money was from the "employees" of Fannie Mae--NOT THE OWNERS--They gave $16 for McCain for every $1 for Obama! I wonder why? Could it have had something to do with John "DEREGULATION" McCain's approach to helping enact laws that let them have their greedy way with the housing/banking industry? The "employees" are like you and me; they WORK EVERYDAY for their pennies. IT WAS THE GREEDY OWNERS who GAVE TO McCAIN who ROBBED US BLIND--then cried for the government to "save them". Try your "fact check". Oh Yeah! Yall don't do "facts"; just "FEAR, HATE, LIES, DISTORTION, ATTACKS and SOUND BITES"--you have NO FACTS (or figures) TO BACK YOU UP! "FEAR, HATE, LIES, DISTORTION & SOUND BITES" stick to your "formula" that got us 8yrs of BUSH and the MESS WE'RE IN TODAY!

  • nikkyrelay Sep 22, 2008

    "Free health care for everyone, everyone should own their own home, social security to illegals, everyone should share their wealth with the illegals and Americans on welfare (or too lazy to work), and not raise taxes, except for the 1-2% who will be leaving the country. We are screwed."

    Either you CAN'T READ, hear or listen OR YOU ARE A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF "FEARS, LIES, DISTORTION and SOUND BITE" POLITICS that the REPUBLICANS HAVE USED FOR THE LAST 8YRS TO SCREW UP THE WORLD!Where, when and how did you get your "FACTS" from, O'Reilly, Neil, McCain,or RUSH?You are a PERFECT EXAMPLE of why our military is stretched to the breaking point; our nation owes $9.3TRILLION in debt; our NATION HAS A DEFICIT OF OVER $500BILLION;Gas prices are at an all time high; FORECLOSURES ARE AT AN ALL TIME HIGH;SUICIDE among our troops are approaching AN ALL TIME HIGH; THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS SKYROCKETING;and YOU ARE BEGGING FOR 4MORE YEARS!4 more years and Bin Laden will have achieved his goal!

  • shepherd Sep 22, 2008

    Last week, Sen Biden said the wealthy must pay more taxes to show patriotism. Problem is, the more you jack their taxes, the more the rich will take advantage of loopholes.

    Alot of rich people's money is protected from the IRS through trusts or foundations. For example Sen. Kennedy has $500 million in trusts based in Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and the bulk of it in Fiji. The Kennedy oil company operating in five states, once called Kenn Oil, is now named The Arctic Oil Royalty Trust. George Soros "holds the bulk of his billions in tax-free overseas accounts."

  • whatusay Sep 22, 2008

    Obama wants the U.S. weak on national defence, dependent on foreign oil, illegals to be made citizens (and still wave their Mexican flag). Free health care for everyone, everyone should own their own home, social security to illegals, everyone should share their wealth with the illegals and Americans on welfare (or too lazy to work), and not raise taxes, except for the 1-2% who will be leaving the country. We are screwed.

  • 68_polara Sep 22, 2008

    Ah ok...

  • Dr. Dataclerk Sep 22, 2008

    What tax breaks has McCain promised for the wealthiest of Americans wildervb?

    I don't know. But his rich wife is supporting him. McCain do not have any money.

  • shepherd Sep 22, 2008

    Obama is calling for a new stimulus package, I think this is a great idea. Does any one have any idea when this may be a reality? I need a newer model HDTV set as the one I currently have isnt big enough.

  • 68_polara Sep 22, 2008

    humdinger, I hope you were being sarcastic other wise that's about the most ignorant statement I've ever read on wral.

    What tax breaks has McCain promised for the wealthiest of Americans wildervb?

  • Dr. Dataclerk Sep 22, 2008

    Vote for Obama in the November election. A man for CHANGE!