As North Carolina State University readied for a visit by President Barack Obama, state Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope used the opportunity to slam Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, a key target of national Republicans in the 2014 election.
Hagan will not attend the president's event at the university. Her spokeswoman, Sadie Weiner, said Hagan will remain in Washington, where the Senate is in session.
In addition to "working on cleaning up (North Carolina House Speaker) Thom Tillis' unemployment insurance mess," the Senate voted on a continuing resolution to prevent a government shutdown, Weiner said. Hagan also attended a closed-door Senate Armed Services Committee briefing on Iraq and Syria, she said.
The Senate is considering a bill that would extend unemployment benefits to people who have been out of work for months. North Carolinians who lost their extended federal benefits last July when the General Assembly changed the state unemployment insurance program would be eligible for the renewed benefits.
"In spite of all the political differences we may have, It is always an honor to have the president of the United States here in North Carolina," Pope said Wednesday morning at a news conference. "I hope that, during his short visit here, the president will get a chance to see some of the amazing successes that North Carolina is experiencing in spite of the failed policies of his administration."
The purpose for the president's visit is to announce a $140 million project technology institute to be headed by N.C. State, but Pope said the true motive for the visit is political.
"He's here for a very simple reason: to help bolster Hagan's flailing re-election campaign," Pope said.
Obama praised Hagan and her work in his opening remarks during a speech at North Carolina State University.
Pope noted that the president's popularity ratings are low in North Carolina and suggested that Hagan doesn't want to be seen with Obama.
"Kay Hagan can run away from the president, and that's her prerogative. But she can't hide from her own record," he said. "This election is about President Obama, whether she wants it to be or not."
Hagan is a key target for national Republican and third-party conservative groups seeking a GOP takeover of the Senate in the 2014 elections. More than $9 million has already been spent on ads, most of it by groups seeking to unseat the first-term Democrat.