The seat of Rowan County, with its walkable downtown, laid-back Sunday barbecues and about 26,000 residents, is certainly no hotbed of politics.
But Elizabeth Dole -- Republican nominee for North Carolina's U.S. Senate seat and one of the foremost political figures in the nation -- calls the city home.
Elizabeth Dole was born into Salisbury society in 1936 as Elizabeth "Liddy" Hanford and spent her formative years learning to be a proper Southern lady. But when the small city's horizons became too cramped, she made her way down the road to Duke University, a trip that launched her on a journey, bringing her back to her native city infrequently at best.
After graduating from Duke in 1958, Elizabeth Dole earned a degree from Harvard Law School in 1965 and almost immediately became involved in government. She served under the Nixon and Reagan administrations during the politically turbulent 1970s and the economically challenged 1980s.
President Reagan, under whom Elizabeth Dole became the first female secretary of transportation, largely shaped her political philosophy and reinforced her traditional values, she says.
On the night of North Carolina's 2002 primaries, she told of Reagan's lasting impact on her approach to public service.
"(Reagan) told me, 'Elizabeth ... I couldn't go another day in this office if I didn't know I could ask God's help and it would be given,'" she said. "I have never forgotten those words. And as I look ahead -- I promise you, I will also be looking up."
The same night she spoke of her religion, Elizabeth Dole reiterated that in shaky times like those after Sept. 11, citizens need lawmakers who are led, at least in part, by faith.
For Elizabeth Dole, faith -- though integral to her -- is only a part of the package she offers, says her husband, Bob Dole.