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Romney in slightly better shape than McCain in NC according to polls

If you go by poll averages, Mitt Romney is in slightly better shape than Barack Obama was at this point in North Carolina than was John McCain.

The Real Clear Politics website, which collates poll averages, as of Oct. 31 has Romney at 49.8 percent and Obama at 46 percent.

At the same date in 2008, Real Clear Politics had McCain at 48.9 percent and Obama at 46.3 percent.

Make of it what you will.

McCain, Graham rally North Carolina military voters

CARY – Maybe no remnant of John McCain’s presidential campaign is more alive or useful this election cycle than the Arizona senator’s continuing popularity in military circles.

On Tuesday, McCain put those inroads to use in North Carolina – a state he narrowly lost by some 14,000 votes in 2008 – when he joined Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina for a campaign swing that included stops at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Cary and a Fayetteville rally near Fort Bragg.

Lines of cars crowded the parking lot outside the VFW post Tuesday morning, and several dozen filled a community room – some donning McCain-Palin paraphernalia, others clutching books and in want of an autograph.

The Republican heavyweights slammed President Barack Obama’s foreign policy record, and even though McCain was once critical, advocated the benefits of Mitt Romney as commander-in-chief.

John McCain to campaign for Mitt Romney in North Carolina next week

John McCain and Lindsey Graham will campaign for Mitt Romney in North Carolina next week.

The former presidential candidate and South Carolina senator will hold military-themed events in Cary and Fayetteville on Tuesday to talk up Romney's policies. Graham will then appear later in the day at a Wilmington event.

Obama campaign opens 52nd local office, Romney trails McCain's office total

The Obama campaign on Wednesday is opening its 52nd local office in North Carolina, furthering the disparity between his re-election operation and Mitt Romney's effort.

The latest Obama office is located in Hillsborough, the seat of Orange County.

Romney's campaign has 24 offices across the state so far, Republican officials said, still below the 40 John McCain established in his 2008 losing effort.

McCain calls questioner a wacko after he suggests senator resign

Republican Sen. John McCain's penchant for plain spokenness was on display Monday at a town hall in Fayetteville. The town hall meeting on defense cuts was also attended by Senators Lindsey Graham and Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

During a question and answer session, an unidentified man stood at a microphone to ask a question, but first struggled with his Iphone to record the event. “I'm not used to this technology,” the man explained.

As he fiddled, McCain whipped out his own Iphone and began recording the man, producing tittering from the audience.

Morning Roundup: McCain, GOP try to use budget deal against Obama

Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain led a delegation of GOP senators Monday in urging Democratic President Barack Obama to reopen budget negotiations to avoid what he called “devastating” defense cuts.

Appearing near the sprawling Fort Bragg Army base, the senator said the president had an obligation to help to work out an agreement with Congress to avoid the deep cuts to the military that will automatically go into effect in January unless a deal can be found. Read the full story here.

More political headlines below:

--A busload of undocumented immigrants has departed for Charlotte, on its way to protest during the Democratic National Convention. The occupants will risk deportation to demonstrate in Mecklenburg County. The group will join hundreds of other illegal immigrants who could march during the convention, protest organizers said.

Surrogate City - so much for the dog days of July

These may be the dog days of July, but not in a battleground state.

Consider. On Saturday, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, considered a strong possibility for the GOP vice presidential ticket, will campaign in Cary and Raleigh for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

Actor Don Cheadle will be in downtown Raleigh Saturday to host a canvass kickoff for President Barack Obama's campaign.

On Monday, Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina , and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire will be in Fayetteville to talk about the dangers of looming defense budget cuts.

In Durham on Monday, Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human secretary, to talk about the Affordable Health Care Act.

On Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama is due in Raleigh for a fund raiser at the downtown Marriott.

McCain, Graham and Ayotte headed to NC on Monday

Three Republican senators will visit Fayetteville Monday to decry looming defense cuts that are scheduled to take place under budget sequestration next year.

Senators John McCain of Arizona, Lindsay Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of new Hampshire will launch a series of “Preserving America's Strength” town hall meetings with a meeting at Fayetteville Technical Community college.

The town hall meetings are scheduled to be held in key primary states – Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire.

President Barack Obama this week claimed congressional Republicans were willing to slash defense spending to balance the federal budget while extending tax cuts to the country's highest earners.

“People in Congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps our military strong,” Obama told the Veterans of Foreign War in Reno.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Obama for not being more active in the discussions, saying the defense cuts will “severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.''

Morning Roundup: Controversial issues give way to education-themed day

A trio of controversial issues dominated the discussion Wednesday -- fracking, immigration and gay marriage -- but education is today's topic.

The N.C. Association of School Administrators will hold its annual conference in Raleigh today. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue will speak at 9 a.m., continuing her push for better education funding. And the Democratic candidates who want to replace her -- Bob Etheridge, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Rep. Bill Faison -- will speak at a 5 p.m. forum, along with those seeking the state superintendent post.

Republican Pat McCrory released his education plan Wednesday, getting a day -- and a story -- all to himself on the topic. He outlined a series of proposals including merit pay for teachers, more accountability, faster expansion of charter schools and more e-learning.

For other headlines, see below.

Hagan will sit with McCain at State of the Union

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan said she will cross the aisle and sit with Republican Sen. John McCain at next week's State of the Union address.

This is part of an effort to have members of different parties sit together during the speech to symbolize an effort to work together.

“I remain committed to overcoming the destructive partisan bickering that prevented progress on a host of important issues for the American people,” Hagan said.

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