At the University of Florida, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm explained difference between the two candidates on fair pay:
"I was watching the rerun of Meet the Press on the Gotta Vote bus, and your senator was on. You know what he said on Meet the Press this morning? Your Senator Rubio said that the Romney administration would probably not have signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law. He said that the Lilly Ledbetter Act was nothing more than a gift to trial lawyers, nothing more than that.
"There would be huge problems for women with a Romney administration. In fact I happen to have my binder—a binder full of policies that the Obama administration supports on behalf of women. Polices like fair pay, like access to contraception, like freedom of choice.
"Women are half the population, but between women's issues and jobs, this matters to 100 percent of the population. And I'm glad we have a president who stands up for us."
As mayor of Sacramento, Kevin Johnson has seen firsthand how President Obama's policies on clean energy, infrastructure, and education have had a positive impact on his city. And with this year's presidential race reaching an apex, Johnson told the Obama campaign to put him to work and send him anywhere they needed him. That's how the Californian found himself in North Carolina this week, campaigning in one of the most critical states in this year's election. It doesn't hurt that this is basketball country—because before he was Mayor Johnson, he was KJ, an all-star who played for the Phoenix Suns.
"Right now, we're in the fourth quarter," Johnson says, "and we're up maybe by a point or two. The other side is digging deep. They're going to try to make a run. We have to open up the lead." And now that early voting has begun statewide, he's here to get out the vote.
Four years ago, President Obama won North Carolina by just 14,000 votes—five per precinct—and it was the first time the Tar Heel State had voted to send a Democrat to the White House in 32 years. It's going to be close, Johnson says, and it's going to come down to the volunteers and organizers on the ground. But North Carolina has a chance to decide our next president: If Mitt Romney doesn't win North Carolina, it's going to be extremely difficult for him to win the White House.
And what about those reports that the Romney campaign is pulling out of North Carolina? Don't fall for it, says Johnson. "In basketball, that's called a head fake. North Carolina, we can expand the lead here. We gotta play to win. We gotta get people out to the polls."
Fonzworth Bentley has a book, a record, and a TV show. He's worked with Diddy and some of the biggest names in hip-hop. Even with such a colorful career—and closet—he says getting out the vote for President Obama is one of the most important things he's done. This week, he's on the Gotta Vote bus in North Carolina—familiar campaign stomping grounds:
"Four years ago, I was in the trenches right here in North Carolina. I was cutting turf. I saw the difference a knock makes. I saw the difference leaving a voicemail makes. Eight years ago, this wasn't a battleground. Today, the color of this state has changed—red to blue—and that's because of you.
"Vote.barackobama.com. I need you to Facebook it, text it, tweet it, Instagram it—whatever you got. In 2008, we won by 14,000 votes in North Carolina. That breaks down to five votes per precinct. So you need to not only vote—you gotta get in touch with five more people and make sure they vote too. This is serious. This is real. But I am confident—because I believe in you."
Kevin, the owner of Trimmerz, a barber shop in Fayetteville, North Carolina, says Barack Obama gets it.
“I’m supporting President Obama because everybody needs somebody who they can look at and say, ‘This person might just have what it takes to look out for me. I see that all the time with my small business. I run into people with all their health problems. They can’t afford their health problems, they can’t afford to get the help they need. That’s why we need President Obama. He understands what life is like for everyday people.”
Kevin is doing his part to get out the vote by registering voters—but not just because there’s a presidential election coming up and North Carolina’s a critical swing state. He says people can register to vote at his barber shop, with Obama posters and photos on the walls, “every year, all year.” Kevin wants his customers to be engaged in their community, to care about smaller races for the mayoralty, the board of elections, the city council. But this year’s presidential election really does fire him up.
“I’m just excited,” he says. “You have to have something to believe in, something you want to pass on to generation after generation after generation. And I think this is the best force for us to do that.”
Polls are officially open in North Carolina. At Gotta Vote bus stops at Wilson and Greenville this afternoon, our chair, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, let the women of North Carolina, know just how much is at stake for their family's bottom line.
"Mitt Romney still can't give women a straight answer on where he stands on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Simple question: If you were president, would you have signed it? But he won't answer. The President, we know, that was the first bill he signed into law. He understands.
"The other night, President Obama talked about the crucial role that women play as breadwinners in American families. And Mitt Romney talked about us as resumes in a binder. Do you feel like a resume in a binder? I know I'm not. I also know that I don't need a president who thinks the only reason I need help balancing work and family is so I can rush home and cook dinner for my husband. Women are so much more than that.
"President Obama has clearly showed us he understands that we are so often the breadwinners in our family, the heads of our households, the key to the economic success of families all across this country. The fact is, women only earn 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for doing the same work. That costs the typical woman $431,000 over the course of her career. That is real money in North Carolina, and it's real money in Weston, Florida, where I'm from. And I refuse to accept that for my two daughters, who are 13 and 9 years old. Because like President Obama's daughters, we want to make sure that their future is as bright as possible."
Today is the first day of early voting in North Carolina, and the Hon. Ron Kirk joined the Gotta Vote bus in Raleigh on the campus of North Carolina State University. Before students marched to their early vote location to cast their ballots, Kirk offered them a little pep talk:
"I read a poll that I think NC State is picked No. 1 in the coaches poll for ACC basketball. Now, I'm a huge college basketball fan, but I'm a big enough fan to know you don't win a national championship by polls. You don't win a national championship by just showing up for your first game in November and December. You win by the work you put in now—running those laps, doing those drills.
"Election Day is not just November 6—Election Day is today here in North Carolina. The way we win elections now is by voting early. This is our preseason. This is our training camp. Every early vote is money in the bank for us, and you have time to make sure your friends and neighbors know."
Early voting has begun in several states across the country. Find out when and where you can cast your ballot at GottaVote.com.