Local Politics

Obama leads in N.C. appearances

Despite three visits in a week by the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, GOP officials remain confident North Carolina will remain in their camp.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has made three trips to North Carolina in the past eight days, while Republican rival John McCain's campaign has no appearances scheduled in the state.

Obama, his wife and running mate Joe Biden have visited Charlotte since last Sunday, which some Democratic Party officials say indicates North Carolina is up for grabs in November. The state hasn't backed a Democrat for president since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

A WRAL News poll released Monday puts Obama and McCain in a virtual dead heat, as did an Elon University poll released last week. The Elon poll also indicated state residents had a much more favorable opinion of McCain.

North Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Meek said believes economic concerns are behind the momentum shift toward Obama.

"The financial crisis has, I think, really raised people's concerns," Meek said.

Brent Woodcox, a spokesman for the North Carolina Republican Party, discounted the polls.

"We've seen everything from a 20-point lead for McCain to a dead even race. I mean, both of these polls can't be correct," Woodcox said. "It's important to remember (that) polls are snapshots."

Still, McCain's campaign isn't taking the state for granted, he said. McCain is airing television ads across the state and has plenty of grassroots volunteers.

Obama has a nearly 10-to-1 advantage in paid staff in North Carolina, and both he and McCain continue to open campaign offices in the state.

"That suggests to me that they're serious about North Carolina in a way we haven't seen before," Meek said.

"If Barack Obama wants to put all his eggs in one basket in North Carolina, which hasn't gone Democrat since 1976, we welcome that decision," Woodcox said.


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