State News

Easley: N.C. voters will heed Obama's call for change

Posted August 13, 2008 4:01 a.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2008 1:32 p.m. EDT

— Back in May, Gov. Mike Easley was giving advice to Hillary Rodham Clinton about how to beat Barack Obama in North Carolina.

Now, Easley is talking strategy on Obama's behalf in his presidential campaign against Republican John McCain.

The two-term governor told reporters Wednesday that Obama's focus on improving the economy, ending the war in Iraq and expanding education and health care to more Americans will be successful in North Carolina.

"The people of North Carolina want two things: They want out of the war, and they want to change the economy," he said. "It's going to be very difficult for people in North Carolina to vote for the status quo and not change."

McCain offers no plans for ending the nation's economic struggles or providing more educational opportunities to people, Easley said, noting the state lost 250,000 manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2006. International trade agreements supported by President George W. Bush were the reason many of those jobs were moved overseas, he said.

"Sen. Obama represents a real break from past policies that haven't helped North Carolina families," said Patrick Gaspard, Obama's national political director. "There is a hunger and a yearning on the ground (among voters) to go off in a different direction.

Obama continues to expand his base of operations in North Carolina, hoping to capture a state in the November election that traditionally votes Republican for president. A Democrat hasn't won North Carolina's electoral votes since 1976.

He has opened 16 campaign offices across the state in recent weeks, five times as many as Republican presidential candidate John McCain. The GOP overall has nine offices in North Carolina.

Marc Farinella, the director of Obama's campaign in North Carolina, said the campaign has spent about $2 million airing television ads statewide and has 5,850 volunteers working in all 100 counties. Teams of campaign workers and volunteers will work every political precinct in the state to organize support for Obama before the November election, he said.

Easley endorsed Clinton a week before the state's May 6 primary, but Obama won the election handily. Some consider the victory a turning point in his drive to clinch the Democratic nomination.

The governor said he has no plans to seek a position in Obama's administration if the Democratic candidate wins.

"We need to stay focused on what's important for America, not what's in it for me," he said.