North Carolina Gets Attention From Obama, GOP

Michael Bitzer

State of the Union addresses are filled with policy wishes and hopeful challenges from the President to Congress and the American people.  The speeches are intended to be laudatory, expansive, filled with reassurances and visions for a brighter future.

And then there’s the re-election year State of the Union addresses — one’s that you can pinpoint the battlefields in the ensuing campaign.

President Obama’s re-election State of the Union address hit all the key points for Democrats to agree with heartily and for Republicans to dismiss summarily. But in reading the speech, you find some interesting “shoutouts” to some notable locations: Michigan, Ohio, Orlando, Pittsburgh, Chicago…and Charlotte (twice, even with a reference to CPCC) and Raleigh.

Could it be a coincidence that, apart from his hometown/re-election campaign headquarters, many of the states mentioned are recognized battlegrounds in the upcoming general election? Our very own North Carolina received three shoutouts, more than any other state in the speech. Nothing like including a state’s two major cities in a key speech to let those folks know that he hasn’t forgotten us, right?  Feelin’ the love yet, Old North State?  “Let’s stay together” isn’t just an Al Green song, but more like a Presidential plea for another courtship this election year.

And speaking of showing the love, Republicans weren’t to be outdone—they ran an ad before the speech to counteract the President’s bully-pulpit. The ad, “The State of Our Union,” uses the President’s own words against him at the beginning and end, and includes a cameo by former President Bill Clinton.  So even though the GOP hasn’t quite settled (and probably won’t for some time) on its nominee to court North Carolina voters, the national party didn’t want North Carolina to feel left out.

And this was just one night. Imagine August, September, and October of this year. While it may seem odd to have suitors showering us with attention 10 months out, the 2012 election is going to prove that nothing is too early, and nothing is off limits.  The Democrats and Republicans are already launching volleys in what many have said (and will continue to say, over and over) will be a real test of battleground competitiveness.

North Carolina may be feeling more love from both parties than we know what to do with this year.


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