McCain holding town-hall event in Wilmington
Republican presidential candidate John McCain makes his first public appearance in N.C. in five months. Watch it LIVE on WRAL.com at 2:15 p.m.Posted — Updated
McCain planned to hold a town hall-style event Monday afternoon at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington.
The 2,000 free tickets to the event were gone within 45 minutes after they were made available Saturday at New Hanover County GOP headquarters.
Officials handed out more tickets than the auditorium can hold, so supporters began lining up at 7:30 a.m. Monday – almost seven hours before the event – to ensure they could get a seat. Lines still snaked around the building early Monday afternoon.
Although many supporters said they wanted to hear what McCain had to say about the economy and health care reform, some said they just wanted to hear some passion from him to re-energize Republican voters.
A WRAL News poll conducted last week shows McCain and Democratic candidate Barack Obama to be in a virtual dead heat, with Obama holding a 49 to 48 percent lead.
"North Carolina has been a red state," voter Kelly Landgraf said, referring to the Republican color on political maps. "We've been in a little bit of trouble, but I know we're going to be a red state again."
"(I want him) to make know the real Obama. No one knows who that is yet," voter Adrian Arnett said.
McCain last appeared before North Carolina voters in May at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem. He last visited the state in June, when he met privately with evangelist Billy Graham.
A week ago, McCain's running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, attended a rally in Greenville.
McCain's wife, Cindy, was at Lowe's Motor Speedway outside Charlotte on Saturday as honorary race director.
Obama and his running mate, U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, have each visited North Carolina several times in the past month. Obama also spent several days in western North Carolina last week while preparing for a debate with McCain.