Obama, Pence rally in NC on final full day of early voting
Posted November 4, 2016
Updated November 5, 2016
Fayetteville, N.C. — With one day left until early voting closes, President Barack Obama and Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence urged people Friday to get to the polls, reminding them about the high stakes in next week's election.
"Understand the stakes here," Obama told a crowd in Capel Arena on the Fayetteville State University campus. "My name's not on the ballot, but everything we've worked for is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Equality is on the ballot. Jobs are on the ballot. Health care is on the ballot. Criminal justice reform is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. I need you to vote."
Obama was making his second visit to North Carolina in three days on behalf of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, demonstrating the importance of the state in the calculus of securing 270 electoral votes to win the presidency. After speaking to a crowd at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Wednesday, he also was set to speak Friday evening at the PNC Music Pavilion in Charlotte.
The president called Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump "uniquely unqualified to be president," citing his calls to ban Muslim immigrants, his disparaging remarks toward women and his mockery of people with disabilities.
"We can't have a president who, every day, seems to violate those basic values. The problem is that he's done it so much that it's become almost normal," Obama said. "It's just some stuff that, up until this election, we would have said is completely disqualifying.
He referenced Trump's stint on reality television by noting that his brash behavior is "like suddenly reality TV has entered into the race for the presidency."
By contrast, he said Clinton would be "a smart, steady president" who would work on behalf of the nation to improve the economy and ensure the U.S. retains its place on the global stage.
"This is about what we can achieve together," he said. "Right now, you can reject the mean-spirited politics that would take us backwards. Right now, you can elect a leader who's spent her life trying to move this country forward."
"He made it clear. but he also brought out the point why we should be out there voting," rally attendee Angela Black said. "How our forefathers fought to get this freedom to vote so we can't stand around and complain if we're not going to do anything."
During his speech, a man held up a Trump sign, and the crowd tried to shout him down with chants of "Hillary! Hillary!" and "USA! USA!"
Obama appeared to become flustered trying to regain control of the venue, spending more than a minute waiting for the chants to stop and occasionally shouting, "Hold up! Hold up!"
"This is what I mean about folks not being focused," he finally admonished the crowd. "If we lose focus, we could have problems. This is part of what's happened during this election season. We just get stirred up for all kinds of reasons that are unnecessary."
Pence blasts Clinton's ethics
Pence spoke to a small crowd in Greenville early Friday afternoon, slamming Clinton for the email controversy that continues to plague her campaign, the 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the growth of Islamic State forces in the Middle East. He called the choice between Clinton and Trump one "between up and down."
"There's a lot of reasons to elect Donald Trump, but if only for the decades of their self-dealing, their conflict of interest, the Clintons' politics of personal enrichment and outright corruption, we must ensure here in North Carolina that Hillary Clinton is never elected president," Pence said.
National surveys still put Clinton slightly ahead of Trump, but in North Carolina, an average of polls puts Trump ahead of Clinton by nearly 1 percentage point. Trump can't get to the 270 electoral votes he would need to win without winning North Carolina, and that now appears to be a possibility.
"This election is about a lot bigger things than the Clintons' small ethics," Pence said, reiterating many of Trump's campaign talking points, from repealing the Affordable Care Act to renegotiating trade deals to appointing conservatives to the U.S. Supreme Court.
He told those in the audience to vote and to get others to go to the polls as well: "Friends don't let friends vote alone."
Clyde Cutler said he doesn't think it will be difficult to persuade skeptical Republicans to vote for Trump.
"They think it's a swing state, but I think it's done swung for Donald Trump and Mike Pence," Cutler said. "Everywhere, you see there are Donald Trump/Mike Pence signs. You don't see any Hillary signs."
"All of us need to do all we can to turn this country around, to turn America back to what we know and make America strong again, safe again and great again," Pence said.
Clinton and Donald Trump each held two rallies Thursday in North Carolina, and Trump's campaign has announced he will be in Wilmington on Saturday and in Raleigh on Monday.