Cover Story: Obama to visit NC

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - President Obama is bringing his push for a new jobs bill to North Carolina.  But critics are viewing his visit here as a sign his re-election campaign needs a boost.

The president unveiled his plan less than a week ago.

"I am sending this Congress a plan that you should pass right away," Obama told Congress last Thursday.

Now he's on the road hitting the biggest battleground states of the 2012 campaign, storming select states for American jobs - perhaps chief among them his own job.

In Virginia on Friday.

"Pass this bill."

In Ohio Tuesday.

"Pass this bill."

It'll be the same speech in Raleigh on Wednesday where crowds were lining up to get tickets to see the President speaking at NC State's Reynolds Coliseum.

"It doesn't happen that often," said NCSU student Larry Graham.  "I mean, how many people can say they went to see the President speak? That's why I'm extremely excited about it."

Five jobs speeches in seven days in three states.  The sites.. are they coincidence or political?

These visits have real important strategic value.

Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina are all three important to President Obama's re-election.

Virginia and North Carolina went from Republican Red to Democrat Blue - first time in years -when Obama carried them in 2008.

Ohio is a bellwether state.

"So goes Ohio," the saying goes - whoever wins Ohio often wins the White House.

Lose in any or all three and the climb to the top gets tougher.

"If a Democrat can crack the South a Democrat can win," said Dr. Scott Huffmon, a nationally-known political scientist at Rock Hill's Winthrop University.

Capture the 11 states of the South and a candidate is 60-percent of the way to winning the presidency.

Traditionally it's how Republicans win.

In 2008 Barack Obama cracked open the south.  He took in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida.. and was catapulted into the White House.

TV ads from the President's speech last week are already running in the three states - the ads paid for by the DNC.

And the strategy came up at the White House on Monday.

Press Secretary Jay Carney admitted the president is campaigning.  And then he paused and added the words for growth and jobs.

Mr. Obama's $447 billion stimulus package includes a tax cut for workers and one for employers.  And tax breaks for companies to hire unemployed and tax breaks to let workers go to part-time rather than be furloughed.

In North Carolina right now Obama's poll numbers are not goo.  One polling firm found than only 40 percent of Tar Heel voters approve of the job the President is doing, while 54 percent disapprove.

Experts expect we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the next 14 months.

"North Carolina was incredibly important in 2008.. it'll be that much more important in 2012," said Huffmon.  "The decision to have the nominating convention in North Carolina.. visits like this to North Carolina that's no coincidence."

He's speaking about the Democratic National Convention coming to Charlotte next September.

You want to know how important North Carolina is?

The President's in Raleigh tomorrow.  Vice President Biden will be Raleigh on Thursday.

It's the first time many people can ever remember the North Carolina capital city has received back-to-back visits from a president and veep on consecutive days.

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