Romney wins key November swing state in NC
Posted May 8, 2012 9:12 p.m. EDT
Updated May 8, 2012 10:28 p.m. EDT
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina voters overwhelmingly supported Mitt Romney in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and the chance to face President Barack Obama in November.
North Carolina has become a key battleground state, and it is consider integral by both campaigns to securing the general election.
State GOP Chairman Robin Hayes said he was "thrilled" by Romney's victory.
"With North Carolina’s unemployment rate remaining at an unacceptably high level, our citizens demand a president who understands how to create an environment where job creators can flourish," Hayes said in a statement. "Governor Romney’s successful business and governing background make him uniquely qualified for the job."
In addition to North Carolina, Romney won victories Tuesday night in Indiana and West Virginia pushing him closer to the 1,144 delegates he needs to clinch the GOP nomination. The three victories will hand him 100 or so delegates of the 288 he still needs.
In North Carolina, Romney easily defeated Ron Paul, who was the only other person still in the race on the ballot. Even though they have dropped out of the race, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich were both still on the ballot as well.
None of the outcomes were a surprise, and Romney essentially ignored Tuesday's primaries. Romney spent the day campaigning in Michigan, where he castigated President Barack Obama as an "old-school liberal" whose policies would take the country backward.
Obama, who was uncontested in the Democratic primary, only pulled in 79 percent of the vote in North Carolina Tuesday – 21 percent voted "no preference."
Last month, Obama spoke at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill urging students and others to lobby Congress not to increase the interest rates on student loans. A week before that, Romney was in Charlotte to speak on jobs, gas prices and health care costs. He campaigned across the street from the Bank of America Stadium where Obama is scheduled to accept the Democratic Party's nomination for a second term in September.
In particular, the Obama campaign has zeroed in on North Carolina as a pivotal swing state in November. The president and the first lady have campaigned heavily in North Carolina over the last year and added extra in-state stops to his fall bus tour.
Michelle Obama visited in March to speak to service members and their families in Raleigh. She'll return Saturday to give the keynote commencement speech at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in Greensboro. When the battleground state hosts the Democratic National Convention, it will be the first time a major party has held a nominating convention in the state.
Obama narrowly carried the state in 2008 and was the first Democrat to win North Carolina since Jimmy Carter in 1976.