President Obama is heading to North Carolina Wednesday for an official event, but with his sights set on his re-election, his presence there might be perceived as more than a coincidence.
"It isn't an accident that we're here in this state," she said at a Charlotte fundraiser last Friday. "I mean, over the past five years, we have spent a lot of time here in North Carolina -- from the Atlantic coast to the research triangle to the smoky mountains and everywhere else in between. And I'll tell you, the President loves it here. Loves it here. And I do, too."
The president isn't campaigning in the state Wednesday; focusing instead on the economy, when he visits the Daimler Mount Holly Truck Manufacturing Plant. Still, there's no denying North Carolina's significance to his re-election. Obama campaign volunteers are already blanketing the state.
In 2008, the president narrowly won North Carolina; the first time a Democratic nominee for president had done so since the days of Jimmy Carter.
The state's GOP Chairman Robin Hayes says Obama's intentions are transparent. "The Obama Campaign clearly understands the troubles that are plaguing the Democratic Party in North Carolina...[I]t's clear that [the Obama campaign] knows how dismal their outlook has become. President Obama is going to speak about the economy and his preferred budget -a budget that proposes adding another trillion dollars to the national debt. What President Obama needs to understand is that campaign speeches don't create jobs, no matter how eloquent they sound."
But not every visit to every state is political in nature, White House Spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in late February.
"[Y]ou guys set a lot of standards about what constitutes campaign activity, based on where he's allowed to travel," he said. "If you took every state that is supposedly a battleground, you'd remove more than half the country from his itinerary and where he would be allowed to travel as President on official business."
The first family does also seem to have a personal affinity for the state.
As Mrs. Obama noted, "[W]e chose to spend a family vacation in Asheville in 2010 and [the president is] still talking about that...And everywhere we've gone, we've met so many big-hearted folks, who are eager to help others and give back to their communities... And that was never more clear to me than back in March of 2009, when I took my first -- very first trip outside of Washington, D.C., as First Lady. And where did I come? I chose to come here, to North Carolina, to visit with military families at Fort Bragg."
While Wednesday's presidential visit may continue to be billed as official, an overtly political visit is just around the corner. "We are so excited to be coming back here, and we can't wait to see you all again in September," Mrs. Obama said. "So don't get sick of us."