Republicans prepare for battle in Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - In the war for the White House, it looks like Charlotte will become the scene of one intense battle.

Plans to host the Democratic National Convention here are well under way.  Now some prominent Republicans are swooping in to set up shop.

"There's no question," says Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus. "North Carolina is ground zero for both campaigns."

Priebus took time out Tuesday from RNC plans in Tampa to open the party's Mecklenburg County Victory Center. His attention is needed here, because this is a state that suddenly turned blue last election…and because he smells blood in the water.

"[President Obama] is going to have a hard time being competitive here," Priebus said at the grand opening.

Since President Obama and his team chose Charlotte, things have gotten complicated in North Carolina.

Governor Bev Perdue announced she would not seek re-election - polls show the Democrat is just too unpopular.  The state party's executive director, Jay Parmley, then resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment.

And there will be more snags when Obama gets here.  His campaign will have to field questions about the local unemployment rate remaining above average, about the fact that the area is essentially non-union, and about the irony of delivering an acceptance speech beneath Bank of America's logo.

"When the Democratic Convention comes down to its last day," Senator Richard Burr told a group at the Victory Center, "they will regret the decision to come to Charlotte, North Carolina."

Democrats countered Republican activity in Charlotte with an ad condemning Mitt Romney.

"As a corporate CEO, he shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China," one speaker says in the ad.  "As Governor he outsourced state jobs to a call center in India.  He's still pushing tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas."

DNC officials have not expressed any regret over their choice of Charlotte.