Game’s on not only nationally, but also in the crucial swing state of North Carolina.
On Wednesday, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney brought his campaign to Charlotte – site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention – to give a “prebuttal” across the street from where Democratic President Barack Obama will give his acceptance speech in September.
The former Massachusetts governor, making one of his first forays into this crucial swing state, spoke at A Roof with a View – a fifth-floor rooftop venue on Cedar Street that has a sweeping view of uptown and is used for receptions and wedding rehearsal dinners.
“We are going to win in North Carolina,” Romney said.
The Romney campaign chose the spot because it’s near Bank of America Stadium, where Obama will give his acceptance speech to an audience of 74,000 people – not counting the millions watching on TV – to cap the Democratic convention.
The sticker on Romney’s podium: “Obama isn’t working.”
“At some point, he’s got to acknowledge that this is his economy,” Romney said.
North Carolina has lost 50,000 jobs since 2008, Romney told the crowd.
“Those are things you won’t hear,” he said. “...It is very clear that his agenda has not accomplished what he said it would. ... Obamacare didn’t create jobs.”
While he in Charlotte – also the country’s second biggest banking center – Romney is to attend a fundraiser at Myers Park Country Club. The event is being co-hosted by former Bank of America CEO Hugh McColl, who endorsed Obama just after the Wall Street debacle in 2008.
He also appeared at a luncheon fundraiser at the Angus Barn in Raleigh.
After a long GOP primary season that appears to have damaged his standing in the polls, Romney has become the all-but-official GOP nominee.
His main primary rival, former Sen. Rick Santorum, recently suspended his campaign. And this week, Romney was finally endorsed by the GOP’s congressional leaders, House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
A survey released last week by Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, based in Raleigh, found that Obama was leading Romney in North Carolina, 49 to 44 percent.
In a preemptive strike prior to Romney’s Charlotte remarks, two of North Carolina’s top congressional Democrats held a conference call with reporters to promote the president’s record – and skewer Romney’s.
While Obama saved an auto industry “on the verge of collapse,” Sen. Kay Hagan said, “Mitt Romney would have let Detroit go bankrupt.” She also charged that Romney would “trip away the rights women have worked for decades to achieve.”
Rep. Mel Watt called Romney’s “prebuttal,” delivered a block from Watt’s district office, a “mock speech” and said the GOP candidate’s plan is to “cut and slash our way to prosperity.”
Obama and the Democrats are ready for Romney in the Tar Heel State: They will have opened 15 field offices around the state by week’s end.
And, every day, Obama campaign volunteers are registering to vote young people, Latinos, African-Americans, and newcomers to the state.
Obama will return to the Research Triangle area on Tuesday, according to the White House.
Obama’s choice of Charlotte as the convention site could also energize supporters the way the Democrats’ choice of Denver did four years ago: Obama went on to carry Colorado, then a coveted swing state that had gone mostly Republican in recent presidential elections.
Obama also surprised many four years ago by carrying North Carolina, though by only 14,000 votes – the slimmest margin in any of the states in Obama’s column. He became the first Democrat to win the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976.
Hours before Romney’s arrival in Charlotte, his campaign released a video that seeks to turn Obama’s own words against him.
The video features clips from Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech in Denver. In one, the then-Illinois senator says: “We measure progress by how many people can find a job that pays the mortgage.”
Text in the video also points out that, in 2012, the president will give his acceptance speech in North Carolina, a state that “has lost nearly 50,000 jobs since President Obama took office” and has an unemployment rate of nearly 10 percent.
Read more at charlotteobserver.com