As Mecklenburg Democrats rallied around presidential candidate Barack Obama at UNC Charlotte on Monday, Republicans revved up the faithful across town, imploring them to keep working and by all means vote today – rain or shine.
With polls showing many tight N.C. races, about 400 Republicans filled the cafeteria at Jay M. Robinson Middle School in south Charlotte to eat barbecue and listen to GOP candidates – including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Charlotte mayor and gubernatorial hopeful Pat McCrory – tell them that their work wasn't done.
“I've just completed a fly-around across the state, and I feel like we've done everything we can do – nothing's left on the table,” said Dole, who is in a close race against Democratic state Sen. Kay Hagan in a bid for a second six-year term.
“So now let's be sure that everyone in this room leaves nothing on the table, and we'll be celebrating a great victory tomorrow night.”
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Before giving up the microphone, Dole tried to clarify what's become known as the “godless ad” featuring a fundraiser Hagan attended in Boston. The event, hosted by Democratic supporters, was held at the home of a man associated with the Godless Americans PAC, a group that opposes references to God in government.
Dole said she wasn't challenging Hagan's faith, as Hagan has charged. “The question is not, ‘Does she go to church?' The question is ‘Why did you go to Boston?' ” Dole said.
Monday's rally was designed to thank party workers who had spent months making calls and knocking on doors, said Mecklenburg Republican Party Chairman Lee Teague.
Obama's opponent, Republican Sen. John McCain, wasn't there. But Charlotte real estate executive Quincy Collins, who shared a cell with McCain as POWs in Vietnam, spoke about his old friend's sacrifices.
“We're trying to get someone elected with the character to do the right thing,” Collins said.
It was clear many of the candidates had paid attention to national polls that show McCain behind.
But U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick shared a story of a House colleague whose reelection bid appeared doomed, only to win on Election Day.
“Don't believe all the polls,” said Myrick, who is running for reelection against Democrat Harry Taylor. “They've been wrong before.”
State Republican Chair Linda Daves asked supporters to stop “watching Fox News for the next 24 hours” and keep making calls.
“I'm asking for more of your time,” Daves said. “For every hour you're watching Fox News, you could be knocking on doors … This could come down to one vote per precinct in some of these races.”
McCrory arrived late after flying in from a campaign stop in Asheville.
He told the crowd what he'd told N.C. voters the day he announced his candidacy nine months ago – that he wanted to change the culture of N.C. politics and then the culture of state government.
The seven-term mayor said he's tried to run a positive campaign and charged his opponent, N.C. Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue, with spending “millions and millions” on negative advertising.
“We have changed the culture of politics in North Carolina forever,” McCrory said. “We're going to prove you can win running this kind of campaign. I'm proud of it. My integrity is intact.”