N.C. is a battleground for presidential election

This editorial appeared in The (Raleigh) News & Observer.

Only a few months ago it would have been hard to imagine that North Carolina, reliably Republican in presidential elections since 1980, would become a "battleground state." Yet the major candidates for president and vice president have been in Tar Heelia multiple times in these last weeks. That has intensified interest here, evidenced by the million-plus people who took advantage of early voting.

Today, it's time for a little retrospective on what is surely one of the most significant elections in this country since 1932. Then as now, a president was being chosen to pull the country from serious economic crisis and restore a battered American spirit. The 44th president of the United States will need to be not just an agent of change, but an architect of rescue.

One of the men on the ballot came to the campaign as a veteran warrior in every since of the word. John McCain, Republican senator of Arizona, served his country as a combat pilot in Vietnam, and paid for that service with severe injuries and more than five years as a prisoner of war.

McCain, 72, was also scarred by his 2000 campaign for his party's presidential nomination against George W. Bush, whose victory hinged on a brutal attack against McCain in the South Carolina primary. Even in the course of this run for the White House, McCain was almost counted out when his campaign ran short of money.

The other man, a young (47) senator from Illinois named Barack Obama, has himself been tested, not the least in the circumstances of his upbringing. He was the child of a black father and white mother, and was raised in modest surroundings by his grandmother. His is an inspiring story as well, one of high achievement and an admirable determination to help others in his adopted hometown of Chicago.

To read the complete editorial, visit The News & Observer .