Politics & Government

Palin finds supporters in North Carolina

ASHEVILLE, N.C. _ Joy Caccavale was not impressed when GOP presidential nominee John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate.

"I said, ‘You've got to be kidding me,' " said Caccavale, who had been a Hillary Clinton supporter. "I knew he was just trying to get the women's vote."

But by Sunday, she was standing in line more than 12 hours before Palin was scheduled to make an appearance here. Earlier in the week, Caccavale had done something she'd never done before in her life – she'd voted for a Republican for president instead of for the Democratic nominee, Sen. Barack Obama.

"My opinion has changed over time," said Caccavale, who lives in Fairview and is an assistant at an elementary school. "She has the experience. And I started to be turned off by Obama. There are too many unanswered questions about where he is on the issues."

A couple hundred people were already waiting to see Palin outside the Asheville Civic Center by noon, seven hours before she was scheduled to talk in this artsy community nestled near the Blue Ridge Mountains, where the autumn colors offered a show of their own.

Once a reliably conservative region, Western North Carolina has a moderate Democrat member of Congress, freshman Rep. Heath Shuler of Waynesville, who seems safe in his re-election bid against Asheville City Councilman Carl Mumpower. It's one of the signs of change in this area that could give trouble to the McCain campaign, which is trying to solidify its support in a state that has guaranteed its electoral votes to Republicans going back three decades.

Polls show a tight contest between McCain and Obama here.

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