RALEIGH AND SELMA With the race for the White House tightening daily since the FBI director James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, a week of dueling North Carolina rallies have Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton working crowds across the state. Each campaign has zeroed in on battleground N.C.’s 15 Electoral College votes.More than 17,500 people turned out in Selma, N.C., to see Donald Trump take the stage. In the small Johnston County town outside of Raleigh, thousands filled a field to hear the Republican presidential candidate talk about building a stronger military, repealing the Affordable Care Act and asking voters to consider whether Clinton can be trusted to lead the nation.”Our special forces here at Fort Bragg is the tip of the spear in fighting terrorism, and believe me we are going to get rid of terrorism, get rid of ISIS. All we need is leadership at the top level,” said Trump. “The motto of the Special Forces is to ‘Free the Oppressed,’ and that’s exactly what we will do. … If given the honor of serving as your president, I vow the following: all men and women in uniform will have the support supplies, the equipment, the medical care and resources they need to get the job properly done. Full and proper funding for all branches of the American armed services.”The crowd had a large number of military retirees and women, all looking for a new message and a change from the Washington scandals filling headlines.”I’m a patriot, and I am so fed up with Washington, like most people I think that are in this crowd,” said Sue Soule of Fuquay-Varina. “The establishment, the corruption. And I think we finally found someone in Trump he’s not perfect, he’s made mistakes, but there’s not a person in this crowd or anywhere in this country that hasn’t made mistakes. … I’m a woman. I know who I am as a person. I don’t have to worry about when somebody makes an off-color remark, and women do the same thing.”Trump has deployed running mate Mike Pence, his children and supporters among the military brass to business centers and military areas in North Carolina in the closing days of the campaign, talking about a renewed focus on national security, health care and education. His daughter Ivanka Trump drew crowds in Charlotte, while Pence stumped in Greenville.Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is calling in hip-hop and Hollywood elite hoping to fill her venues with urban, young and minority voters. She appeared at Raleigh’s Walnut Creek Amphitheater flanked by former primary foe Bernie Sanders and musician Pharrell Williams. The state fire marshall estimated that 4,100 supporters turned out to see her speak in Raleigh.”Bernie and I have already worked on the plan to make college tuition-free or debt-free for everyone,” said Clinton. “When people who care about progressive causes stand together, we win. And then we can get to work turning those causes into reality.”Her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, spent Saturday traveling across the state encouraging one-stop voting, while running mate Tim Kaine spent Monday in Sanford. On Wednesday, President Barack Obama drew larger crowds than Clinton in Chapel Hill, where he stepped up his commentary, predicting dark days should Trump be elected.”The fate of the republic rests on your shoulders,” Obama told supporters in Chapel Hill, calling Trump temperamentally unfit to lead the nation. He told the crowd that his own legacy depends on Clinton’s election.With poll numbers changing by the day, there is not doubt that North Carolina is a battleground state and the results on Tuesday will be an early boost to the candidate that takes the Tarheel State.
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BLADEN COUNTY Bladen County Board of Elections officials say there are a suspicious number of write-in votes with “overtly similar” handwriting cast in the Nov. 8 election in the county. The nearly 300 write-ins […]