Presidential stump heats up as early voting nears

Dems send Jill Biden; GOP dispatches John Boehner

rchristensen@newsobserver.comOctober 13, 2012 

— With early voting scheduled to begin this week, both parties brought in big names Saturday – second lady Jill Biden for the Democrats and House Speaker John Boehner for the Republicans – to urge the party faithful to redouble their efforts.

North Carolina had the look of a battleground state this weekend as the wife of the vice president, the House Speaker from Ohio, a Hollywood actress, a corporate CEO from Silicon Valley and a governor from Massachusetts all stumped the state.

Speaking to about 140 Republicans at a rally behind state Republican headquarters, Boehner said that the election is about jobs and that President Barack Obama doesn’t understand the economy.

Boehner said that he has worked with Obama more than any Republican during numerous negotiations.

“Let me tell you,” Boehner said. “He doesn’t get it. As a result, he doesn’t understand how the economy works or how America works.’’

Boehner contrasted Obama with the long business career of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential nominee, who Boehner said does understand that government interference can cost jobs.

In Cary, Biden, wife of the Vice President Joe Biden, stressed how much is at stake for women in the election.

Biden, who teaches at a Virginia community college, said Obama and her husband have stood up for the rights of women, regarding equity in the work place, protection against domestic violence, and respect for reproductive rights.

“The president and the vice president know how important it is for women to make our own decisions about our own health care,” Biden told about 200 people at a rally Saturday behind an Obama field office in downtown Cary.

“So many women of my generation fought hard for Roe v. Wade, for access to contraception and for equal rights,” Biden said. “We don’t want our daughters and our grand daughters to have to refight those battles of the fifties, and the sixties and the seventies.”

In asking young women to vote for the Obama-Biden ticket, she said: “Help them envision what the Supreme Court is going to look like with two super conservatives on that court. That will affect them forever.”

The next president could appoint as many as two new justices to the high court.

Blanketing the state

Both sides worked to rally their troops Saturday as early voting period was set to begin Thursday.

Boehner stumped across the state, starting in Charlotte on Friday and ending with a fundraiser in Wilmington for U.S. House candidate David Rouzer.

Besides the Cary event, Jill Biden attended rallies in Greensboro and Charlotte, hitting all the major media markets.

With the early-voting period looming, the tempo of campaigning has intensified.

Actress Alfre Woodard visited Obama field offices in Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, Greenville, Wilson Garner, Durham, Winston-Salem, Burlington, High Point, Kannapolis and Charlotte to encourage volunteer workers.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, attended an Obama-sponsored event Friday night at the Triangle StartUp Factory in Durham to talk about the president’s support for building an economy based on education and innovation, according to the campaign. He drew parallels between the Research Triangle and Silicon Valley.

On Friday, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick campaigned in Raleigh for Obama.

First lady Michelle Obama will visit Chapel Hill on Tuesday.

‘It’s crunch time’

“It’s crunch time here in North Carolina,” said Leah Cowan, the Raleigh area’s regional field director for the Obama campaign. “We have the ability to keep Raleigh and North Carolina blue.”

At the state NAACP convention held Saturday in Raleigh, the president of the state chapter, William Barber, announced plans by his organization to get 1 million people to the polls during the early voting period, and then “go back and bring somebody else.”

Upbeat in the GOP

But Republicans were feeling good after Romney’s debate performance.

“We are on the momentum,” Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers told the GOP crowd. “We are beating Obama. And we are going to continue on that track. We have got to get him out.”

Added GOP congressional candidate George Holding: “Who here is ready to give Obama the boot?’ The crowd responded with cheers.

Christensen: 919-829-4532

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