Verne Strickland Blogmaster
"We call him the campaigner-in-chief because everywhere he goes, even if it is something to do with the presidency, he always finds time to politically fundraise for himself and for others,” said Rob Lockwood, director of communications for the North Carolina Republican Party.
Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary and current Obama campaign adviser, disagrees.
"Tomorrow's stop is not about the president's job, it's about the jobs of North Carolinians,” he told NBC-17 Tuesday night.
Gibbs was in Chapel-Hill speaking to students at UNC Tuesday evening. He told NBC-17 the president chose the Triangle for a reason.
“He understands the importance in the Triangle of the research triangle park, those research universities, job training, businesses connected with learning institutions to create a workforce for the jobs that are being created out there,” Gibbs said.
President Obama was to speak about jobs at N.C. State, where Gibbs attended school. The university recently lost 741 positions, the most of any school in the UNC system under the Republican-created state budget.
“The state, in terms of what the state legislature’s doing, is doing the best they can to bear the brunt of the imposition of the national economy, which is President Obama’s,” Lockwood said.
He argues President Obama’s reason for coming to the Triangle has less to do with the reasons Gibbs listed and more to do with North Carolina’s recent status as a battleground state. Lockwood points to President Obama’s stop at WestStar as an example.
"The president's visit is about American jobs, but he's visiting a company owned by a democratic donor who is creating more jobs in Costa Rica, potentially, than he is in North Carolina right now,” Lockwood said.
The owner of the company, Erv Portman, said he does not know why the White House chose his business for a presidential stop.
“A thousand dollars does not buy you access to the President,” he said.
His company employs 24 people at both sites in Apex and Costa Rica, Portman said.
The line between campaign issues and the President’s jobs push is thin. Gibbs said jobs are “the first, second and third most important issues,” in the 2012 campaign.
“I really think there’s probably about 90 percent of what people are concerned about are jobs and the economy. That’s what’s on the president’s mind almost all his time and that’s what will be on his mind tomorrow,” he said.
Vice-President Joe Biden will be in the Triangle Thursday for a private fundraising event.