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President Obama visits N.C. State to garner support

By Estes Gould | The Daily Tar Heel

RALEIGH — The crowd was overwhelmingly on President Barack Obama’s side at his speech at N.C. State University Wednesday — but his speech showed support elsewhere is harder to find.

Obama might have joked about being glad to have “so many wolves in his Wolfpack,” but the real goal was clear: days after Obama urged Congress to pass his American Jobs Act, he’s trying to get the public behind the bill.

Between 9,000 and 10,000 students and state residents packed into the Reynolds Coliseum to watch the speech.

“For those of you who did skip class, I’ve got a homework assignment for you,” he said. “Tell your Congress person that the time for gridlock and games is over.”

Emphasizing that the bill would be paid for by further reducing the deficit, he said its ideas have received bipartisan support in the past.

He accused Republicans of playing politics, opposing the bill just because it might help them in next year’s election.

“Give me a win? Give me a break,” Obama said. “This is about a win for the American people.”

But the bill would increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations, which Republicans say would stall the already weak recovery.

And according to a CNN poll, 55 percent of the public disapproves of his handling of the presidency.

Still, Obama’s efforts to build support might be working.

The president’s approval rating rose slightly after his Sept. 8 speech to Congress, according to Reuters. CNN’s poll said 43 percent of the public supports the Jobs Act, while 35 percent opposes it.

Obama said the Jobs Act would help reboot the nation’s sluggish recovery by cutting taxes and providing incentives for new jobs. It would invest billions in the country’s infrastructure as well.

Before the speech, Obama visited WestStar Precision, a manufacturing development company in Apex. He said the Jobs Act would support innovative companies like WestStar and others in the Research Triangle.

“The better the economy is doing next year, then his reelection campaign will be propelled,” said Ferrel Guillory, a UNC journalism professor. “Getting a jobs bill passed is government, but it’s also politics.”

Guillory said the president is likely to visit North Carolina and other swing states often before elections in 2012.

Events like Wednesday’s could spur support among young voters, whom Obama needs to turn out like they did in 2008, he said.

Guillory said young voters and metropolitan areas are once again important bases for Obama if he hopes to clinch next year’s election.

“This remains a competitive state, and it’s not a sure win for Obama next year,” Guillory said. “But he’s got an opportunity to repeat that victory.”

Because the economy is the most important issue in the election, the jobs bill could be crucial to his success in 2012.

So when one student screamed, “I love you, Barack,” Obama had a quick answer.

“I love you, too,” he said. “But if you love me, you’ve got to help me pass this bill.”

photo courtesy: Allie Russell / DTH

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