State News

Palin to kick off crowded week of N.C. campaigning

Posted October 26, 2008 4:04 a.m. EDT
Updated October 26, 2008 6:23 p.m. EDT

— Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin's speech in Asheville Sunday evening will kick off a wild week of campaigning across North Carolina that will put all four major candidates on the trail in the state.

Palin will speak in a "Road to Victory Rally" at the Asheville Civic Center, 87 Haywood St., around 7 p.m. Country singer and "Redneck Woman" Gretchen Wilson will also appear at the rally.

Watch Palin's speech LIVE on

Sunday's rally will be Palin's third visit to North Carolina in as many weeks. Her most recent appearance came at a rally at Elon University Oct. 16.

Palin's visit to Asheville – and the events that follow – indicate the urgency of winning North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes.

Her Democratic counterpart, Joe Biden, will follow with "Early Vote for Change" rallies in Greenville and Greensboro Monday. Biden toured three North Carolina cities last week.

Behind the vice presidents will come the two presidential hopefuls.

Republican John McCain will hold a rally in Fayetteville's Crown Center Coliseum Tuesday afternoon. Country-music legend Hank Williams Jr. will appear alongside McCain.

The Associated Press reports that Democrat Barack Obama will appear Wednesday at location that has not been determined. His wife, Michelle, will address the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in Fayetteville and hold a rally in Rocky Mount the same day.

The heavy focus on North Carolina in the crucial final days of the race indicates just how valuable the state is to both candidates amid an approaching election and tight polls. North Carolina has not voted for a Democrat since 1976, but Obama has moved even in the polls with a heavy investment in the state and the aid of changing demographics and a large bloc of black voters.

A WRAL News poll conducted Thursday showed McCain with a slim two-point lead, within the poll's 4-point margin of error.

The poll indicated that McCain might be getting back trust on economic issues, where Obama had been gaining support: When asked who they trusted to handle the economy 51 percent of voters picked McCain and 46 percent Obama, a change from recent polls where Obama lead on that issue.

Both parties have focused much of their time getting supporters to the polls before Election Day. Early voting began Oct. 16, and already more than 1 million people – 18 percent of eligible voters – have cast a ballot at one-stop sites.