Local Politics

Candidates and their surrogates tour the Tar Heel state

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and surrogates for her rival, Sen. Barack Obama, planned campaign stops throughout North Carolina during the final weekend before Tuesday's primary.

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WAKE FOREST, N.C. — Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and surrogates for her rival, Sen. Barack Obama, planned campaign stops throughout North Carolina during the final weekend before Tuesday's primary.

Clinton began the day at Cary High School, on Walnut Street, for a panel discussion with working moms hosted by Momlogic.com. She addressed topics ranging from girl-on-girl violence to her daughter's early dating years.

"Chelsea was a teenager in White House, which meant that the Secret Service went on her dates," Clinton said. "A lot of her girlfriends' mothers loved it when they double dated, because there was a guy with a gun in the front seat."

A family therapist, Shannon Fox, gingerly asked Clinton how she had guided her family through "difficult times" – a clear reference to her husband's affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"When you are in a difficult situation, oftentimes you just want to withdraw and just shut yourself out. When you have to do it in front of the world, that's different," Clinton said, adding that she relied on her faith and friends to get through the crisis.

She also referred to reports of teenage girls videotaping themselves bullying other girls.

"What kind of lessons are they getting at home that they are so desirous of seeing themselves on the Internet attacking a fellow student?" Clinton asked.

Speaking at the Wake Forest College Birthplace Museum, Clinton touted her ability to deal with immediate and long-term crises, such as rising gas prices. She said the candidates' approach to that problem represent "a big disagreement."

"Someone running for office, particularly running for the presidency, has to be able to deal with both the immediate, the urgent, the long-term and the necessary," Clinton said. "If you are a leader, you have got to look at both the headlines and the trendlines."

She proposed suspending the federal gas tax this summer, investigating if energy traders are driving up oil prices and stopping buying oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

"I am convinced energy traders are driving up the cost of oil and gas right now in the global marketplace," Clinton said. "And we need to close what is unfortunately called the Enron loophole and start regulating energy traders again so they cannot be basically taking advantage of the rest of us."

Julie Murphy was one of many undecided voters who attended the Wake Forest event.

“I’ve never heard an actual candidate before and she was very impressive, made good points,” Murphy said.

Elizabeth McDuffe said she is leaning toward Clinton, but said if she heard Obama speak she would “probably lean that way.”

“It’s a tight contest, so every vote counts,” Murphy said.

Randy Grazio, an undecided voter, said the key for him is voting for a person who has the better chance of going up against likely Republican nominee John McCain.

Following the Wake Forest event, the New York senator traveled to Gastonia for a 1:30 p.m. event at the Rotary Centennial Pavilion.

Clinton ended the day at the North Carolina Auto Racing Hall of Fame, 119 Knob Hill Road, in Mooresville. That event began at 3:30 p.m.

The Obama campaign says a last-minute get-out-the-vote effort Saturday will have volunteers and staffers canvassing neighborhoods and holding rallies in cities, including Chapel Hill, Durham, Fayetteville, Raleigh, Southern Pines and Wilson.

Obama also picked up an endorsement on Saturday from the Raleigh Police Protective Association. The RPPA, 500 member law enforcement union based in Raleigh, held a pres conference on Saturday. Sen. Claire McCaskill accepted the endorsement on Obama's behalf.

Clinton's daughter, Chelsea, will make stops in North Carolina on Sunday. She starts the day at 12:30 p.m. at Lumberton Farmer's Market, then heads to Clinton for a 3:15 p.m. appearance at the Gazebo at the Sheild House Inn. Chelsea Clinton wraps up her day meeting with voters at the Mellow Mushroom at 6:15 p.m. in Raleigh.

Hillary Clinton has also scheduled to be in the state on Monday, her campaign announced on Saturday. She will appear at a campaign event at 8:15 a.m.at Pitt Community College's Eward and Joan Warren Gym in Greenville. Clinton will then attend an evenet at 11:30 a.m. at the Train Depot in High Point.

Former President Bill Clinton, will speak in 15 cities and towns on Sunday and Monday, concentrating on western North Carolina and the Piedmont Sunday.

That tour will swing to the Triangle and eastern parts of the state on Monday, with visits to Jacksonville, Smithfield, Louisburg, Zebulon, Henderson and Roxboro.

In Smithfield, Bill Clinton will speak at 1:30 p.m. at 206 Hancock St., followed by a 3:30 p.m. speech at 304 North Arendall Ave. in Zebulon. Clinton will be in Louisburg at 4:30 p.m. at a yet-to-be named location. At 6 p.m. he will speak at an event at H. Leslie Perry Memorial Library in Henderson, followed by an 8 p.m. speech at Roxboro High School.

Bill Clinton will wrap up with a stop at 10 p.m. in Raleigh at the location Hillary Clinton campaign office at 516 N. West St.

Obama's wife, Michelle, will press her husband's case to become the next president in Fayetteville and Charlotte on Monday. Michelle Obama will speak in Fayetteville State University's Felton J. Capel Arena, 1200 Murchison Road.

The event is free and open to the public, but attendees are urged to get a ticket or RSVP online at the Obama campaign Web site. A limited number of tickets will be given away at Mr. B's Barber and Beauty Shop, 113 Person St., from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

The event begins at 1:45 p.m., and doors open at 1:45 p.m.

Obama will spend the weekend in Indiana, which is also holding its primary on Tuesday.



Erin Coleman, Reporter
Greg Hutchinson, Photographer
Anne Johnson, Web Editor
Kathy Hanrahan, Web Editor

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