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President's trip to NC highlights state's importance in 2012

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CHARLOTTE – Republican leaders fired back on President Obama's jobs bus tour through North Carolina, describing the trip as campaigning on failed policies.

Both parties' attention to the state is proof that North Carolina's 15 electoral college votes in 2012 are already being fiercely contested.

North Carolina was Mr. Obama's narrowest victory in 2008, when he captured it by just 14,000 among more than 4 million votes cast.

Political science experts said the president has to again do well in the state's urban counties, where his support is the strongest.

"Once you get into the suburbs, that's where the kind of real battle plays out,” said Catawba College's Dr. Michael Bitzer. “In terms of the rural vote, he's got a long way to go."

A Public Policy Poll this month had President Obama narrowly defeating Republican candidates Mitt Romney and Rick Perry in hypothetical match-ups. ClientIP: UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP