Bill Clinton to host Pullen Park rally Sunday afternoon

rchristensen@newsobserver.comNovember 2, 2012 

Democratic Convention

Former President Bill Clinton addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 5, 2012.

J. SCOTT APPLEWHITE — AP

  • Early voting ends on Saturday Saturday is the last day of early voting. It’s also the last day to register to vote in this election. Lines have been long throughout the early voting period and are expected to be so again Saturday. As of 5 p.m. Friday, 2.3 million people in North Carolina have voted at one-stop early voting sites. Here are a few things you need to know. Poll hours In Wake County, which has 16 early-voting sites, the polls will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In Johnston, polls are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., in Durham from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and in Orange from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Poll locations To find an early voting site in your county go to www.app.sboe.state.nc.us/webapps/OS_sites. Registering If you’re registering to vote, you must bring proof of name and residence (such as a driver’s license, utility bill or military ID). Good to know You cannot pull out your cellphone while in the voting booth, but you can take in a piece of paper with a reminder of who you want to vote for. And remember, a “straight party” vote does not include the office of president/vice president or any nonpartisan race or issue. You must vote for those separately. Got problems? If you feel intimidated or suspect fraud, report it the State Board of Elections at 919-733-7173 or call the FBI at 336-855-7770. Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.

Former President Bill Clinton’s rally in Raleigh on Sunday will be held at Pullen Park, campaign officials announced Saturday afternoon.

The 4:30 p.m. event will be open to the public. Pullen Park is west of downtown off Western Boulevard.

It was announced Friday that Clinton would appear in Raleigh over the weekend, but the details of where and when had not been nailed down until now.

With several polls showing the presidential race tightening in North Carolina, the visit by the former president is the latest indication that the Obama campaign is stepping up its efforts here.

Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, campaigned in Asheville and Huntersville on Friday, and Michelle Obama was scheduled to stump in Charlotte on Monday. Meanwhile, the Obama campaign has in recent weeks begun increasing its advertising buys in the state, according to the National Journal.

“It’s pretty clear the state is still up for grabs and the Obama campaign still thinks it can win this state,” said Steven Greene, a political science professor at N.C. State University.

“These are obviously not the candidates themselves, but pretty close to the next best thing,” Greene said. “These are high-level surrogates. In the closing days of the campaign the most valuable resource is the candidate’s time. But after that, where you send Bill Clinton, Jill Biden and Michelle Obama is a really important decision. They energize voters and bring them to the polls. So you don’t make these decisions lightly.”

Clinton, who won high marks from Democrats for his speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte in September, has emerged as one of Obama’s leading salesmen in the closing days of the campaign.

When asked which president of the past 50 years North Carolinians would most like to bring back to serve in office, 33 percent named Clinton, according to a High Point University Poll released Friday. That was second only to Ronald Reagan at 35 percent.

The Republicans, meanwhile, countered with Sharon Day, the co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, who is visiting GOP field offices across the state Friday and Saturday. Day is scheduled to visit the Raleigh Victory Office at 2:15 Saturday.

‘A tied race’

Although considered one of the battleground states, North Carolina has been in a lower tier than such states as Ohio, Iowa and Virginia, which have had frequent visits from the presidential and vice presidential candidates.

Even without the candidates, both sides have invested heavily in a ground operation and in a TV advertising campaign.

Jim Messina, the national Obama campaign manager, told the state’s campaign organization Thursday night that Obama had the momentum in the race.

“They (the Romney campaign) kept saying this past summer and in early fall that North Carolina would be put away by early October,” Messina said in a teleconference. “ But the fact is, we are exactly where we thought we would be – in a tied race – and we’re going to win it on the ground.”

“He (Romney) has to win between 54 and 60 percent of the remaining vote in North Carolina to win the state.”

With early voting ending on Saturday, the Obama campaign has planned 1,200 grass-roots get-out-the-vote events, including a “march to the polls” at Shaw University Saturday morning.

The Romney campaign put a different spin on the early vote numbers. They note that while North Carolina Democrats are leading the early vote effort, that gap is smaller than in 2008. In 2008, Democrats won the early vote by a 51-30 percent margin. Democrats now have a 48 percent lead to Republicans 32 percent.

Rachel Adams, state Republican campaign spokeswoman, suggested that the move by Democrats to bring in surrogates was to counter the Republican ground game.

“It’s ironic that Democrats tout the fact that they never left North Carolina but chose to wait until four days out from the election to ‘step up their efforts,’ ” she said. “Our ground game has been at full force for months, and it will earn Mitt Romney a victory on Tuesday.”

TV advertising

The Obama campaign has been increasing its TV advertising buy in recent weeks in North Carolina, according to the National Journal. It has gone from $829,535 for the week ending Oct. 15 to $1.4 million for the week ending Nov. 5.

The Romney campaign has scaled back; spending $1.4 million for the week of Oct 15 to $679,178 for the week ending Nov 5. That does not include the money spent by various super PACs on behalf of Romney, such as the $1.6 million that Restore our Future spent the week ending Oct 29 or the $932,405 that American Crossroads is spending on his behalf for the week ending Nov. 5.

Christensen: 919-829-4532

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