CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- First Lady Michelle Obama took part in a final campaign stop in Charlotte on Monday.
Monday marks the First Lady’s last day on the campaign trail before voters head to the polls on Tuesday. Polls are open in North Carolina on Election Day from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Michelle Obama spoke to supporters at Flight Operations at 4620 First Flight Drive at the Charlotte-Douglas International Airport. Doors opened at noon at the estimated crowd count was 4,500.
The last push around the state
Over the weekend, the Obama campaign hosted 1,200 grass-roots events such as phone banks and door-to-door canvassing, said spokesman Cameron French. Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, stumped Friday in Huntersville and Asheville.
“It speaks to the level of enthusiasm and commitment that we have for North Carolina,” he said. “We’re in the best possible position to carry the state.”
The Obama campaign has pushed early voting. As a result, national field director Jeremy Bird said in a conference call Saturday that Romney will need 65 percent of the remaining votes to win.
Meanwhile, key figures from the Romney campaign have skipped North Carolina over the last several weeks. Instead, the campaign is relying on thousands of volunteers across the state who have committed to more than 18,000 hours in the next two days to mobilize voters, said spokeswoman Rachel Adams.
Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life at UNC Chapel Hill, said the center of the state’s political gravity has shifted to the metropolitan areas, particularly the Charlotte metro area and the Research Triangle Park.
So, he said, it makes sense that the Obama campaign’s last key appearances before Election Day have been in those areas.
“What’s fascinating is the Obama campaign keeps fighting for North Carolina,” Guillory said. “The Obama campaign just doesn’t quit here.”
North Carolina’s two candidates for governor aren’t quitting, either.
Race for state’s top post rolls on
On Sunday, Democratic Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton spoke at the Clinton rally at Raleigh’s Pullen Park. On Monday, he’ll canvass the eastern part of the state.
Saturday, he campaigned at early-voting sites in eastern North Carolina, including Greenville. He also attended a festival in Wilson and campaigned with former Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt. Dalton is trying to appeal to voters who voted for a Republican president but a Democratic governor in 2008, Guillory said.
At the same time, Dalton hopes to capitalize on Obama voters who cast a straight-ticket vote.
“Their superior operation is one of our secret weapons,” said Dalton spokesman Schorr Johnson.
Republican Pat McCrory will campaign close to his Charlotte home Monday. He’ll join other Republicans at Wingate University in Union County. But he’s also spent time in eastern North Carolina.
On Friday, he stopped in Greenville, Goldsboro and Wilson. On Saturday, he tailgated with supporters at East Carolina University in Greenville.
Polls have consistently shown McCrory with a double-digit lead over Dalton.
“The underlying dynamics of the race clearly favor the Republicans,” Guillory said.
“With unemployment rates being high, with Republicans doing well on the state level with McCrory leading in the polls – the makings of a strong Republican year seem embedded.”
McCrory’s polling advantage stands in stark contrast to the presidential race, which polls suggest will be close.
“If we could read any more of the tea leaves it would be nice, but I’m still of the belief it could be a slight advantage for Romney,” said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College. “But I’d hate to put money down on it.”