I put together this editorial for our Sunday Opinon Page that’s probably as close to a personal point of view as our readers will see in that space.
North Carolina may or may not be considered a toss-up state in the long and thus far exceptionally painful slog to the presidential election in November — at least according to what poll you read on any given day.
One day it’s too close to call. The next it “leans Romney.” A day later it comes out as “solid Romney.”
And then it starts all over again.
But there is little doubt that the Tar Heel state and its 15 electoral votes has some importance to President Barack Obama and his presumptive Republican challenger Mitt Romney. Obama won the state in 2008 by a little more than 100,000 votes — the strongest indicator of a near landslide national electoral victory over then-challenger U.S. Sen. John McCain. It was the first time in decades a Democrat carried North Carolina in a presidential race. That momentum led to Charlotte landing the Democratic National Convention this year.
As a result, Romney and the GOP want the state back in the proverbial red column, and badly.
Last week, Romney chose North Carolina as an early site to campaign on the back of his new selection of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. Romney made appearances along the interstate corridor, hitting closest to here in High Point before cancelling a planned appearance in Morrisville. Earlier this summer, Romney’s campaign bus made a stop in Burlington — even though Romney was in Europe at the time.
The president and first lady have also visited the state over the past few months. On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden hit the Triangle after flirting with a jaunt to downtown Burlington. The Secret Service met with city police to discuss a possible stop here but later changed course and Biden headed to Durham before making national news with his speech in Danville, Va. and his regrettable remark about the GOP ticket planning to keep people in “chains.”
Sigh, is it really just August?
So already North Carolina has been a hub of national campaign activity. Expect the interest to grow as Sept. 1 draws near and Democrats begin to meet under the glare of network and cable TV cameras in the Queen City.
At this point, it’s impossible to predict how the presidential campaign might impact Alamance County. Four years ago, Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin spoke at Elon before a large crowd. Could be more dignitaries will pay a call. We’ll see.
But most likely voters here will be confronted with a litany of negative, cynicism-producing and joy-sucking TV advertisements in what shapes up as the most expensive presidential campaign ever. We’ve already seen more than we care to witness so far.
It’s all a little overwhelming — the superficial rhetoric, the childish bickering and horse-race coverage without substance.
And there’s nearly three months left to go.