Wilmington, South Carolina -- Southeastern North Carolina should be McCain's sure bet, but from the looks of rallies being held all across the region yesterday, you wouldn't bet on it. There is finally a possibility that North Carolina might vote for a Democrat for president for the first time since 1976. Some polls show Obama slightly ahead of McCain. That is why John McCain is expected to hold a town hall meeting today at Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington to defend his turf. Whether or not he can pull it off is anybody's guess.
Democratic Women of New Hanover County and Barack Obama supporters held grassroots women's issue rallies yesterday across the region, and in Wilmington, North Carolina, the support was especially palpable. The event was called "Women of Southeatern North Carolina R.I.S.E! Respect, Include, Support, Empower."
The keynote speaker, Antoinette Ford, who traveled to Wilmington from DC to talk to voters, is just one of those that John McCain has lost. She is a Republican, former Reagan appointee, who is now supporting Barack Obama.
When a member of the audience asked what she can do about her voter registration form not being filed with the state, Ford told her, "That is why you should go vote early. You can clear all problems in just one stop." She proceeded to remind everyone that early voting starts on October 16th in North Carolina.
Another audience member asked what she can do about the smears. Ford told her, "having seen what the Republicans do to win, I can tell you that you do not go where they go. They smear, make others fear and bring out ugliness when they have nothing else to say."
Then local residents spoke on the issues, ranging from healthcare to the economy, from the state of public education and to the importance of being able to juggle family and work.
Attorney Amanda Davis talked about the slow destruction by the Republican administrations of the measures that FDR put in place to ward off another recession all in the name of deregulation. Another attorney, Sarah Friede Wagner, talked to voters about the importance of equal pay, especially given the fact that women in New Hanover County, where Wilmington is, make only 65 cents on the dollar.
The event was not without incident. About half way through the event, a truck drove by with a group of young men screaming from inside the cabin, "McCain! McCain!" Their shouts were met with the audience members' counter of "Obama!" Obama!" "Obama!" "Obama!"
Toward the end, author Sheila O'Kelley offered words of advice about the importance of inclusion, especially the inclusion of the disadvantaged such as herself who is blind. The event ended without further incident. Everyone attending gathered around at the end, holding hands, and sang "This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land" followed by "Imagine."
As I stood there, I tried to imagine how a McCain rally would end. Probably not with "This Land Is My Land, This Land Is Your Land." And definitely not with "Imagine."