PRINCETON, W.Va. — Over the last few days I’ve been through Southwest Virginia, down in North Carolina and now back up into the mountains on the West Virginia side near Bluefield for some stories about the political climate in red states.
Sen. Barack Obama has set up a massive organization across the country, and especially in North Carolina.
The campaign has given supporters lists with hours and locations of early voting sites, and collected the names, e-mail address and cell phone number of each attendee at the Fayetteville rally Sunday afternoon. (There were a few thousand who had to listen to his speech from the parking lot after the coliseum hit about 10,000 capacity.)
An organizer at the rally rattled off the addresses of early vote sites nearby that would be open after the event.
Photographer Joe Eddins and I headed over to the closest one and found a steady line of voters hoping to cast ballots early. Most seemed to be Obama supporters and several had come from the rally. Nearly all the voters were black.
Also at the polling site was a group of loud and angry protesters who shouted and mocked the voters as they walked in. Nearly all were white.
As you can see from these videos, no one held anything back. People were shouting about Obama’s acknowledged cocaine use as a young man, abortion and one man used the word “terrorist.” They also were complaining that Sundays are for church, not voting.
The first video closes with Roger Farina (who won NHL fan of the year in 2003) going into detail about why he was heckling the voters.
I sent Stephen Dinan a quote from Farina about former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s endorsement of Obama yesterday. Read his story wrapping up that news and Sen. John McCain’s reaction here.
At the voting site, I asked a local sheriff monitoring the scene if the protesters were allowed. “They’re fine,” he said. I asked if he’d ever seen anything like that and he said he’d never seen Sunday voting.
Most voters in line ignored the hecklers but a few heckled back. One black woman told me she was deeply saddened to see people protesting the most fundamental right of democracy.
I also spoke to a McCain supporter who was voting early even though he also had been protesting across the street.
One group was handing out fliers “comparing” McCain and Obama on social issues such as abortion and gay marriage. Among those listed on the sheet were:
Opposes gay pride? McCain YES Obama NO
Supports human cloning? McCain NO Obama YES
The flier is a lie, Obama does not support cloning. Also, I know the McCain camp would dispute him “opposing gay pride.”
I have a story in today’s paper taking a look at Obama’s TV ad strategy, aided in part by his record fundraising haul.
ROANOKE, Va. | In the span of one hour, voters here are told - twice - that good Virginia jobs have vanished because “Washington sold them out with the help of people like John McCain.”
Sen. Barack Obama’s fundraising juggernaut has steamrolled his Republican rival, burying voters with ads - many of them negative - that he can afford to broadcast into the living rooms of red-state voters. There’s no chance it will let up, as the campaign announced Sunday that Mr. Obama had raised more than $150 million in September alone.
The Obama ad attacking Mr. McCain as responsible for trade deals that led to job losses was one of nine 30-second spots that voters could see Friday during the 6 p.m. news.
Mr. Obama’s ads that night painted him as someone who will fight for the American dream, who has a centrist health care plan and who will uphold gun rights. They portrayed Mr. McCain as an ally of President Bush whose health care plan would harm families.
The positive health care spot was Mr. Obama’s largest buy - it ran more than 20,000 times across the country from mid-September through mid-October, according to Campaign Media Analysis Group.In this Southwest Virginia region, just two of every 10 ads played Friday were positive. Two Obama attacks on Mr. McCain came in quick succession during the broadcast of “The Late Show” with David Letterman, followed by a Republican National Committee spot depicting Mr. Obama as inexperienced.
All the Republican ads shown Friday were negative, and an independent pro-Democratic veterans group ran a whopping six spots slamming Mr. McCain for his voting record.
Read the full story on campaign ads here.
The spending overload hurt Obama during the primary season, with many voters saying they were seeing too much of the Illinois senator. But he has the cash to play offense on a wide electoral map - adding Kentucky and West Virginia to his TV advertising schedule recently - and quickly defend any attacks that may come his way in the final days of the campaign.
On Sunday, I also shot this video of these young girls detailing their support for the Democratic nominee:
—Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times
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