Elections

Biden in Charlotte: ‘We win in North Carolina, we win it all’

VP Biden campaigns for Clinton in Charlotte

Vice President Joe Biden talks to Democratic supporters at a Get Out The Early Vote event in Charlotte. David T. Foster, III/The Charlotte Observer
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Vice President Joe Biden talks to Democratic supporters at a Get Out The Early Vote event in Charlotte. David T. Foster, III/The Charlotte Observer

Hoping to ramp up early vote totals for N.C. Democrats that are lagging behind those in 2012, Vice President Joe Biden warned a Tuesday rally in west Charlotte that a Republican victory could undo much of what he and President Barack Obama have done in two terms.

“A lot’s at stake,” Biden told a few hundred Democrats at the Arbor Glen Outreach Center. “Everything we’ve done in the last eight years – from the economy to social policy to environmental policy – can be turned around.”

Biden said GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and many of the Republicans trying to hold on to control of the Senate “don’t believe in global warming,” adding with a crack: “I don’t think they believe there’s gravity.”

Biden and other top N.C. Democrats who addressed the crowd urged supporters in Charlotte and the rest of the state to work even harder to get people to vote early for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who is neck and neck with Trump in most polls of this battleground state.

“Don’t wake up November the 9th and say, ‘If I’d just made two more calls ... and done a few more things, we’d have won North Carolina,” Biden said.

And because most analysts say Trump needs North Carolina in his column to get to 270 electoral votes, Biden told the crowd that a Clinton victory here would doom Trump’s chances.

“We win North Carolina, we win it all,” Biden said. “We can’t take our eye off the ball...Health care is on the ballot. National security is on the ballot.”

With early voting scheduled to continue through Saturday, Democrats still have work to do to turn out registered Democrats, including African-Americans voters. Early voting for both are below 2012 levels, said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College.

Republicans and those registered unaffiliated, meanwhile, are outperforming their 2012 early voting levels, said Bitzer.

Other candidates at the rally chimed in with a call to step up the push for early voting in North Carolina, which ends on Saturday.

“I want to call on all the nasty women and bad hombres” to vote early, said U.S. Rep. Alma Adams, a Charlotte Democrat in a reference to Trump’s comments during the final presidential debate.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deborah Ross, who is trying to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., pointed out that all three of the races in North Carolina – for president, Senate, and governor – are virtual tossups with only days to go before Election Day on Tuesday.

“It’s a very, very close election,” she said. “The polls are razor-thin.”

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, the Democratic candidate for governor, introduced Biden. The vice president said Cooper would “restore the reputation” of North Carolina, which was once considered a progressive state.

Biden also questioned Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s judgment and his endorsement of Trump.

“This is not your father’s Republican Party. It’s a different breed of cat,” Biden said.

He pointed to economic losses over House Bill 2, including the NBA pulling its All-Star Game from Charlotte. HB2 nullified a Charlotte ordinance that would have extended anti-discrimination protections to LGBTQ individuals.

In anticipation of Biden’s visit Tuesday, the Republican National Committee released statement saying that, “with Hillary Clinton’s campaign beset by the renewed FBI investigation into her private server, Joe Biden will be hard-pressed to assure voters that she should be trusted with a job that begins each morning with a top secret security briefing. North Carolina voters aren’t likely to forget that Hillary Clinton jeopardized classified information through her reckless attempt to hide pay-to-play corruption at her State Department and no last minute visit from the Vice President will change that.”

Biden, who pushed Clinton as the best successor to Obama, accused Trump of “dumbing down … America’s brand around the world.”

“Can you imagine any president in the history of the United States of America ... getting up at 3:30 in the morning ... and tweets vitriol?” he said.

As Biden was wrapping up his speech, there were two loud blasts inside the auditorium.

After the second, Biden asked, “What is that?”

“The speaker,” someone told him.

Biden joked that he probably needed to stop speaking. He ended telling the crowd to work hard in the final days to elect Clinton, Ross and Cooper.

President Barack Obama will follow Biden, on Friday. Clinton is scheduled to be in North Carolina Thursday. And Trump has campaign stops that day in Concord and Johnston County.

Also Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Lewis will lead a march to the polls in Charlotte for early voting to support Clinton.

Biden was last in Charlotte in mid-September. His stops then included a Clinton campaign field office in Charlotte.

The race in North Carolina has been tight but Trump appears to be gaining ground.

Trump jumped to a 7-point lead over Clinton in North Carolina, according to a WRAL News poll released Tuesday.

He led Clinton 51 percent to 44 percent in the poll. The survey was conducted after the FBI disclosed the discovery of another cache of emails potentially important to the investigation of Clinton’s email practices. In WRAL’s poll released three weeks ago, Clinton led Trump 46 to 44 percent.

An Elon University poll, also released Tuesday but conducted before news of the email review, had Clinton and Trump in a dead heat. Clinton had 42 percent and Trump had 41.2 percent, well within the margin of error.

The Real Clear Politics’ average of polls has the race statistically tied in North Carolina, with Clinton at 46.4 percent and Trump at 45.7 percent.

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