Indiana gets national attention for local races

Former President Bill Clinton packed the gym at North Central H.S. Friday.
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Just weeks from the election and some Indiana races are becoming hotly contested, bringing some big political names to the state.

The visit from Former President Bill Clinton Friday was a rally for the Democratic base in Indianapolis. He came to Indiana at the request of Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg.

"I almost feel entitled to sing 'Back Home in Indiana'," Clinton told the crowd at North Central High School.

But Clinton's speech is also a sign that Indiana, and the will of its voters, are taking on national significance. The former president is one of several political heavy hitters now honing in on Hoosiers in the final stretch toward Election Day.

Next week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will visit Merrillville and Arizona Senator John McCain will be in Indianapolis. Both trips are designed to energize Republicans.

Political analysts say these national names are making a push for Hoosier votes.

"Those of us who follow this as a science, we're seeing how many people are voting early, how many people are voting, where they're coming from and Bill Clinton can help you get your vote out," said Eyewitness News Democratic analyst Robin Winston.

High-profile politicians like Clinton aren't necessarily here for the presidential race. Polls show Mitt Romney maintaining a sizeable lead over President Barack Obama in Indiana.

"I don't think he (Clinton) has the capacity to move people, particularly in Indiana against Romney. I don't think he has the capacity of the dynamics of the governor's race," said Eyewitness News Republican analyst Peter Rusthoven.

But the U.S. Senate race, between Joe Donnelly and Richard Mourdock, is neck and neck.

"For that kind of purpose, yeah, a Bill Clinton visit can help," Rusthoven said.

Democrats right now hold a slim majority over Republicans in the U.S. Senate. A small change on Election Day could have big ramifications in Washington, D.C.

That's why big names are hoping to swing undecided Hoosiers their way.