Candidates step up NC visits as campaign season intensifies

Posted September 2, 2016 9:34 a.m. EDT
Updated September 6, 2016 9:05 a.m. EDT

Republican presidential contender Donald Trump and Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton

— Campaign season picks up steam in North Carolina immediately after Labor Day, with former President Bill Clinton, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine all appearing in the state on Tuesday.

Clinton's wife, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, will hold a noon rally at Johnson C. Smith University as well as a fundraiser in Charlotte on Thursday.

Trump is scheduled to deliver a 7 p.m. speech at the Greenville Convention Center focused on immigration, his campaign announced Friday, while Kaine is scheduled to give what has been described as a "major national security address" at 3 p.m. at the Hannah Block Historic USO Building in Wilmington.

Trump and Kaine's events will be streamed live on WRAL.com.

Last week, Trump visited Mexico before returning to the United States and laying out a plan to reform the country's immigration system. The heart of that plan remains building a wall along the United States' southern border. Tuesday's speech appears to be a follow up to that address.

Bill Clinton will stop in at the Lyon Park community center in Durham at 4:15 p.m. to push for voter registration and early voting, her campaign announced late Friday.

Trump's running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, had been scheduled to speak in Fayetteville on Saturday, but he canceled with the approach of Tropical Storm Hermine. He also appeared in Winston-Salem this week.

The repeated visits by the top of both major party's presidential tickets emphasize the importance of North Carolina to both campaigns.

"It really is, in terms of the electoral college, one of the key battleground states," said political analyst David McClennan.

North Carolina is one of two states that flipped which party it backed in the presidential race between 2008 and 2012.

"From 1976 up until 2008, we went Republican," McClennan said. "But President Obama changed that, then-candidate Obama in 2008 won by several percentage points and then in 2012 lost by a relatively close margin."

A percentage or two in either direction could swing North Carolina and its 15 electoral votes.

But the visits are not just about wooing voters, McClennan said.

"A lot of the events, this week in particular, and in previous weeks, are fundraising events," he said.