Local Politics

N.C.'s the place to be for Palin, Obama

Posted October 7, 2008 5:39 a.m. EDT
Updated October 7, 2008 12:34 p.m. EDT

— The woman who wants to be the next vice president and a woman who hopes to be the next first lady will both visit North Carolina Tuesday.

Michelle Obama, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, will host a forum in Jacksonville at 1:30 p.m. to talk about challenges that military families face when a member is deployed.

The campaign event comes the same day as Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who will speak at East Carolina University in Greenville around 7 p.m.Doors there open at 4 p.m. for people who got tickets Monday from Republican campaign offices, the party said.

The GOP state committee also noted that no bags or signs would be allowed inside the Williams Arena.

It's the first major North Carolina campaign event for the Republican ticket in months. Party nominee John McCain last visited the state during campaigning for the May 6 primary.

Obama's campaign has had an almost weekly presence in North Carolina for the past month. His campaign has mounted an aggressive operation in North Carolina as it challenges McCain for the state's electoral votes.

North Carolina hasn't picked a Democratic presidential candidate in more than 30 years. Palin's appearance underscores Republican fears that Obama is close to flipping the state.

Political observers say the frequent attention from the candidates and their surrogates demonstrate the importance North Carolina is gaining in the presidential election.

"It's very much a toss up. Clearly, we're in battleground status," said Andrew Taylor, a political science professor at North Carolina State University.

Recent polls have shown Obama has a slight edge over McCain, but the race remains too close to call.

Obama and McCain will meet Tuesday night in the second of three scheduled debates between the presidential candidates.