Former President Bill Clinton made it to Statesville late Wednesday night for a rally. It was held at Statesville High School and started two hours late.
Clinton scolded his wife's rival Wednesday for not committing to a debate in North Carolina, where the late-season primary has gained national attention in the narrow fight for the Democratic presidential nomination.
On the heels of Hillary Rodham Clinton's primary win in Pennsylvania, her husband said Barack Obama wouldn't commit to a forum April 27 in Raleigh because he lost the last debate. State Democrats dropped plans to host a debate earlier this week, citing time constraints.
"As far as not wanting to debate, I know the reason why. I saw the last debate in Pennsylvania. After that debate, they polled the audience, and they said 52 to 42 percent Hillary won," Clinton said during his first campaign stop on a five-city tour of the state.
Obama campaign spokesman Dan Leistikow said Clinton had declined Obama's offer to debate Hillary Clinton earlier in April.
"Sen. Obama has debated Sen. Clinton more than 20 times already and is committed to giving North Carolinians every opportunity to ask him questions and learn where he stands on the issues they care about," Leistikow in a statement.
Although Bill Clinton has visited North Carolina several times in recent weeks, his appearances Wednesday came as his wife's campaign ramps up efforts in North Carolina. The 10th largest state in the country holds its primary May 6 with 115 delegate votes at stake.
Chelsea Clinton stumped for her mother at Duke University in Durham on Tuesday, and Hillary Clinton is scheduled to campaign in Fayetteville and Asheville on Thursday and in Jacksonville on Friday. She'll be accompanied by Gen. Hugh Shelton, the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Fort Bragg commander. She and Chelsea also will attend a rally on Monday in Charlotte.
Obama, who campaigned in the state last week, hasn't yet scheduled anymore events in North Carolina.
Obama leads in the delegate race, but Clinton's must-win victory Tuesday kept her candidacy alive. As of Wednesday afternoon, with a handful of Pennsylvania delegates yet to be awarded, Obama had 1,719.5 delegate votes and Clinton had 1,591.5 in The Associated Press nationwide count. It takes 2,025 to secure the Democratic nomination.
Bill Clinton called on his wife's supporters Wednesday to keep the momentum going after the campaign's success in Pennsylvania.
"We were outspent on TV 3-to-1 by almost $8 million. But we won by 10 points because of people like you," he told about 150 people gathered at an early voting site in Hillsborough, his first stop. Clinton spoke to about 2,000 people during his second stop, at Elon University in Elon.