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Ad campaign designed to boost president's climate change message

The Environmental Defense Fund is airing television advertisements in North Carolina to boost President Barack Obama's climate change message in the State of the Union address.

Morning Memo: McCrory wants to reject state exchange, Medicaid expansion

GOV. McCRORY SUPPORTS SENATE BILL 4 -- Rejects Medicaid expansion and state-sponsored health care exchange Gov. Pat McCrory issued a statement Tuesday morning announcing he does not support expanding Medicaid to as many 500,000 people in North Carolina, many of them uninsured, and wants the federal government to set up an exchange for the state.

The announcement vanishes any thought McCrory may side with six other Republican governors and accept the money, a move considered a possibility among political observers given his moderate tendencies. His rationale is four-fold: audits show Medicaid is too "broken" to expand right now; the potential long-term costs can't be determined; state government didn't do enough to prepare under Gov. Bev Perdue; and federal matching funds aren't guaranteed given the political uncertainty in Washington

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House and Senate convene at 2 p.m. Earlier in the day, House committees will consider a controversial Medicaid expansion bill, measures emphasizing digital learning and legislation about where to locate the Interstate 540 loop around Raleigh. Gov. Pat McCrory's environmental chief, John Skvarla, will appear before a Senate committee.

Bob Luddy to give SOTU reaction

Raleigh businessman Bob Luddy will appear Tuesday on Fox Business News to give what is being billed as the "small business reaction" to the State of the Union.

Luddy is a leader of the Job Creators Alliance, a nonprofit group of business leaders who advocate for free enterprise. He will appear at 11 p.m. following the Republican response to the SOTU on Fox Business News' "Stossel," according to the group.

Report: Obama may visit Asheville day after SOTU address

President Barack Obama may visit Asheville the day after his State of the Union address, according to a local media report citing unnamed sources.

The State of the Union address is Tuesday. Obama last visited Asheville in October 2011 as part of a bus tour to promote a plan to boost job growth. A year earlier he vacationed at the Grove Park Inn.

The Asheville ABC affiliate is reporting the news. It says: "As true with any potential official visit, official word comes late and sometimes not at all. Sources also tell News 13 a specific venue has not been determined but should be soon."

N.C. Furniture maker visits Sen. Hagan after SOTU

After sitting with the first lady for the State of the Union address, N.C. Furniture maker Bruce Cochrane got up early to have coffee with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan. Cochrane stopped by the Greensboro Democrat’s weekly "Carolina Coffee" session.

Cochrane was one of two North Carolinians invited to sit with the Michelle Obama during the President's speech.

The White House says Bruce Cochrane's story of opening a Lincolnton Furniture and bringing manufacturing jobs back to a region devastated by outsourcing highlights the challenges Americans can overcome.

North Carolina lost tens of thousands of furniture-making jobs over the past decade. But two years ago, Cochrane who was consulting in Asia, says he saw opportunity as he watched Chinese wages and shipping costs rise. He decided to open a furniture manufacturer in North Carolina.

Cochrane and Hagan talked about the opportunities that companies have to bring more jobs to America as well as some of the barriers, such as access to capital, that many entrepreneurs face today.

Kings Mountain's Jackie Bray also sat with First Lady Michelle Obama.

President Obama highlights North Carolina in his State of the Union address

UPDATED: In the State of the Union, President Barack Obama highlighted the achievements of Jackie Bray of Charlotte. The text is below:

"Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic.  Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College.  The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training.  It paid Jackie’s tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant. I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did.  Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job. ...Model partnerships between businesses like Siemens and community colleges in places like Charlotte, Orlando, and Louisville are up and running. Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers – places that teach people skills that local businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing."

Kings Mountain mother's story highlighted in State of Union

The president is promoting relationship between community colleges and business. To make his point, he highlighted the story of Kings Mountain's Jackie Bray. Bray is a single mother who was laid off last January from her job as a high speed packaging mechanic. She  enrolled in Central Piedmont Community College to prepare for a Siemens pre-hiring test.  After finishing the course, Bray was hired by Siemens in August of 2011.

Jackie is sitting next to Michelle Obama during the State of the Union. The president says the partnership between business and community colleges is way to strengthen our workforce. As camera's panned to Bray sitting next to Michelle Obama, the president said he wants everyone to have "the same opportunities Jackie had."

RNC hits Obama in new ad airing in Charlotte


UPDATED: The Republican National Committee is hitting televisions with a new advertisement disparaging President Barack Obama on the economy ahead of his State of the Union address tonight.

The 30-second spot is airing for two days in three states and the District of Columbia. In North Carolina, it is only appearing in the Charlotte TV market. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus would not disclose the cost, calling it "not a massive buy but not tiny either," in a conference call Tuesday morning with reporters. But political operatives said it's miniscule -- $27,000 nationally and just $4,000 in Charlotte.

RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer said Charlotte was identified as a key market for the advertisement because Republicans believe they can win voters in the 2012 election -- even as Democrats lavish attention on the city with the party's nominating convention.

Democrats and Republicans mingle during State of the Union

U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell will sit with U.S. Rep. Howard Coble during the State of the Union address Tuesday.

After a year in which Congress’s approval ratings dipped to historically low levels, the Biscoe Democrat and Greensboro Republican will join more than 150 members of congress who have agreed to cross the aisle in an effort to show voters they’re committed to overcoming partisan bickering.

The move is a continuation of last year’s effort when many Republicans and Democrats sat together in a sign of unity amidst calls for greater for civility in Congress after the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. U.S.

Rep. Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton Democrat, will be sitting with Alabama Republican Rep. Robert Aderholt. Senator Kay Hagan, a Greensboro Democrat, will also be sitting with Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona.

Duke professors 'tweet' their analysis of State of the Union

Several Duke professors will be sharing their expertise during the State of the Union address via Twitter.

At least five professors, including Don Taylor and Marc Bellemare from the Sanford School of Public Policy, have signed up to share insights using no longer than 140 characters during President Obama's speech. Ebrahim Moosa, a professor of religion & Islamic studies, will also take part in the Twitter discussion.

The professors will be using #Sotu and #Dukechat as hashtags when discussing the speech. 

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