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Bush's N.C. Visit Might Not Help Some Repubican Candidates

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — President George W. Bush will make yet another visit to the state this year on Wednesday, when he visits Greensboro. North Carolina is familiar territory to Bush. Three weeks before Election Day, though, does the campaign stop help or hurt local candidates?

Nationally, the president's job approval rating is less than 40 percent. It's higher in North Carolina, a state that's voted Republican in the past seven presidential elections.

The mixture of military and political support is a main reason that Bush visits the state so much. However, presidential influence can be a double-edged sword close to Election Day. So, the White House is careful where he campaigns.

North Carolina State University political science professor Andy Taylor said that Greensboro is generally a hotbed of Republican support. Local congressman Howard Coble and congresswoman Virginia Foxx are predicted to retain their seats easily.

But if Bush ventured outside those districts, the story changes. Don't expect the president to be glad-handing with Republicans Robin Hayes or Charles Taylor. Taylor is in an especially tight race in western North Carolina.

"The president isn't going to really help them very much," said NCSU's Taylor. "He might be a hindrance more than a help."

One way that Bush's Greensboro visit can help is in funding.

"Even if he is unpopular with the public at large -- President Clinton showed this in his second term -- one thing presidents can do is raise a lot of money," Taylor said.

That said, the president wraps up his visit Wednesday night with a Republican National Committee fundraiser. That money can flow to candidates in swing districts.


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