UPDATED: President Barack Obama was scheduled, albeit briefly, to visit North Carolina on Election Day to make an speech in Asheville about the economy.
The White House sent the notice Wednesday last week but reversed course about five hours later, saying the trip wasn't taking place, according to a North Carolina congressional office notified about the trip. The false alarm isn't unprecedented -- but the fact the White House even considered visiting the state on primary election day is interesting.
A controversial vote on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions is on today's ballot. Obama issued a statement against the amendment earlier this year -- but polls show it is likely to win by a solid margin.
The White House initially did not respond to questions about the scheduling snafu but later spokeswoman Joanna Rosholm issued a statement: "Any confusion around today's travel plans is due to an internal miscommunication at the White House. The President will travel to North Carolina again soon."
The alert about the Obama visit came about noon Wednesday and was changed by 5 p.m. The White House's official week-ahead schedule released at the end of last week put the president in New York today, not Asheville.
Given the gay marriage conversation that consumed the White House on Monday, a visit to North Carolina on the day of a gay marriage vote would only increase the questions about where the president stands on the issue -- questions Gov. Bev Perdue took the brunt of earlier today on an appearance on MSNBC.
N.C. Republican Party spokesman Rob Lockwood later issued this statement, suggesting Obama was trying to distance himself from the amendment vote.
“President Obama wanted to distance himself from the marriage amendment so badly, that he cancelled his trip to North Carolina?" Lockwood said. "The same North Carolina that he has visited so many times in the past few months, and the same North Carolina where he put his convention. If liberals were looking for a leader on this issue, they clearly don’t have one in the White House."
And Democrats countered, suggesting the GOP reasoning was nonsense. “Time to time the leader of the free world’s schedule changes," said Walton Robinson, state Democratic Party spokesman. "He’s a busy man. All reasonable people know that by now. North Carolina is and continues to be a top priority for President Obama and the Democratic Party."