Roanoke, VA -- The presidential motorcade, the cordon of Secret Service agents, the sight of a president campaigning on a small-town street.
Heady stuff, and new for Virginia during a presidential race.
For decades, the commonwealth has been one of the 40-something states whose politics were so predictable that they were virtually ignored during presidential contests.
Virginia hadn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.
The state that calls itself the Mother of Presidents -- eight have been born in Virginia -- became a presidential afterthought.
Virginia is one of the most fiercely contested states of this election.
The political ad spending in the state by the campaigns of President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney is the third highest, behind only perennial battlegrounds Ohio and Florida.