Local Politics

Spouses Bring Campaign to N.C.

Posted April 3, 2008 10:55 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2008 11:59 a.m. EDT

— The spouses of the Democratic presidential candidates are doing the campaigning this week in North Carolina.

Former President Bill Clinton made a four-city swing through the state Friday in support of his wife. Michelle Obama is scheduled to speak in Raleigh and Wake Forest Tuesday.

The battle between Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is raging every day, and the weapons are the cell phones and laptops of campaign workers.

"We have 14 field offices across the state. We have volunteers working in all those offices,” said Obama spokesman Dan Leistikow.

This week, Obama opened a campaign headquarters in Greensboro. He has at least 13 campaign offices across the state, including one in Raleigh.

"She's going to be opening 12 offices in the next few days,” Clinton campaign volunteer Betty Lou Ward said.

Clinton's Raleigh office opened Wednesday.

"She brought in her top crew from the West Coast that has been very supportive of her out there," Ward said.

The political posturing has a purpose. North Carolina is a very big "get" for the candidates, with 115 delegates up for grabs and 19 superdelegates who could be influenced by the showings in the May 6 primary.

"I think this win is very important for the Clinton campaign," Ward said.

"North Carolina is going to be incredibly important. This is a big state. It is like it would have been in Iowa back in December or January," said David McLennan, a political science professor at Peace.

McLennan said a win in North Carolina is especially important for Clinton. If she doesn't win, McLennan said, Clinton loses in three ways.

"Without a victory in Pennsylvania and then going to Indiana and North Carolina, she loses all three. She loses momentum. She loses the delegates and she loses the money," he said.

Earlier this year, Obama posted easy wins in South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia.

North Carolina's delegation to the party convention this summer is second in size only to Pennsylvania's among the contests left, and the Democratic nomination is far from decided.

"Particularly after April 22. It is going to be full bore on North Carolina," he said.

Typically, presidential primaries draw about 18 percent of voters to the polls. With the Democratic nomination still up for grabs, however, experts expect more interest, more advertising and a chance for voters to see the candidates up close and personal. Turnout for the May 6 primary could be as high as 65 percent.

Registration for the primary runs through April 11. If you miss that deadline, you can register and vote at the same time by participating in One Stop Early Voting between April 17 and May 3.