State GOP Chairman Robin Hayes welcomed Democratic President Obama to North Carolina this morning, but said his time would have better spent in Washington working on the economy. "The country is in trouble economically,'' Hayes said in a teleconference. "The president is running for re-election, coming to Chapel Hill where Gov. Perdue was booed by the students because of the lack of jobs. The truth is that one of two students is not gong to get jobs when they graduate.''
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A story in yesterday's Washington Post portrayed North Carolina as a key battleground for both parties in the 2012 presidential race.
The state's changing demographics and President Obama's narrow 2008 victory in the state has Republican leaders here worried, according to a report from Washington Post writer (and former N&Oer) Amy Gardner. An Obama victory in North Carolina in 2012 would make it extremely difficult for a Republican candidate to win the White House.
Republicans are poring over the details of how Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since Jimmy Carter. They are trying to pass laws in the legislature to restrict the early-voting system that Obama used to such remarkable effect. And Republicans are preaching to anyone who will listen that those who think Obama couldn’t possibly win here again had better wake up and get to work.
"They turned out voters in record numbers last time, and we need to be ready,” said Robin Hayes, chairman of the North Carolina GOP and a former congressman who was defeated in the 2008 wave that Obama led. “We expect them to be as good and probably better. We know they’ll have more money. And if you think that’s not the case, you’re making a foolish mistake.”
Read the full Washington Post story here.
State Republican Chair Linda Daves of Charlotte says she will not seek another term next year.
"I think it is good and health for an organization to have fresh, new leadership periodically," Daves said in a statement. "At the conclusion of my term in June, I will step aside and allow someone else the honor and responsibility of guiding the party into the future."
Among those who have expressed interest in running for party chair is state Sen. Fred Smith of Clayton, who last year unsucessfully sought the gubernatorial nomination.
Daves was chair during a difficult election cycle for Republicans. They lost the Senate seat held by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, a congressional seat held by Robin Hayes, and the auditor’s office held by Les Merritt. Barack Obama also became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1976.
The convention will be held June 12 to 14 in Raleigh.
U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes is taking heat for his warm-up act.
Speaking at a John McCain rally in Concord Saturday, the Republican said that opening speakers need to "make sure we don’t say something stupid" because the liberal media would distort the remarks.
A spokeswoman for Hayes, who is running for re-election against Democrat Larry Kissell, at first denied that Hayes had made the remark to the Washington-based political newspaper Politico, calling its account "irresponsible journalism."
However, a reporter with local radio station WFAE had audio of the remarks. (Politico posted the audio here.)
"I genuinely did not recall making the statement and, after reading it, there is no doubt that it came out completely the wrong way. I actually was trying to work to keep the crowd as respectful as possible, so this is definitely not what I intended," Hayes then said in a statement.
The head of the national Republican Party says he's not taking North Carolina for granted.
In Raleigh as part of a voter registration swing, Republican National Committee chairman Robert "Mike" Duncan said that the state will be "in the Republican column" in November, but he said the party will devote significant resources to get-out-the-vote efforts.
"We can't take anything for granted," he said.
Duncan said that the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama had an early organizational advantage leftover from the primary effort against Hillary Clinton, but he said that the Republican National Committee will be building up its voter-registration efforts to back John McCain.
Still, he remained optimistic that McCain will carry the state.
Duncan noted that the campaign of Obama has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising in North Carolina but still lags behind McCain in the polls here.
He also said that U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes will win re-election, arguing that the Concord Republican's constituents know he is a hard-worker in Washington.
Duncan added that he and Hayes live in the same apartment building in Washington, D.C., and he frequently sees Hayes coming home after working late.