Obama Campaigns For Hillary Clinton In North Carolina

Nov 2, 2016
Originally published on November 3, 2016 11:46 am
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AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

President Obama says that even though his name isn't on the ballot in this year's presidential election, his legacy is. Obama is campaigning hard for Hillary Clinton all week. This afternoon, he was in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he warned supporters that many of his signature accomplishments could be undone if Donald Trump is elected president.

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PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: All the progress that we've made over the last eight years, all of the progress we hope to make over the next eight years - all of that goes out the window if we don't win this election. And we don't win this election potentially if we don't win North Carolina. So I hate to put a little pressure on you, but the fate of the Republic rests on your shoulders.

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CORNISH: NPR's Scott Horsley is traveling with the president and joins us now. And Scott, laughter there, but those are stark terms that the president is presenting, right?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: They are, Audie, and it's only a little bit of hyperbole. Donald Trump has promised to roll back the Affordable Care Act, withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, unwind many of the executive orders the president has issued over the last eight years. And with a friendly Republican Congress, he could do all of that.

Obama says he doesn't want to spend his final months in the White House picturing the unraveling of his agenda. And that's why he's campaigning so aggressively for Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump.

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OBAMA: This is somebody who vilifies minorities, vilifies immigrants, vilifies people of Muslim faith, makes fun of Americans with disabilities. How is that person going to be your voice?

HORSLEY: Now, the president's approval ratings are a good deal higher than Hillary Clinton's are, so he's hoping some of that goodwill can rub off on his former secretary of state.

CORNISH: But Scott, this president has a mixed record in North Carolina, right? I mean he barely won the state in his first White House bid eight years ago. Then he lost it to Mitt Romney in 2012. So why do they think it makes sense to have him in North Carolina?

HORSLEY: Well, when Obama won here in 2008, he was only the second Democrat to do so in 40 years. Southerner Jimmy Carter was the first. But aides say they see this state shifting more into the purple column in recent years.

Now, part of that's the backlash to the state's Republican governor and legislature and some of the moves they've made, and you see that especially in areas like the Research Triangle where the president's campaigning today. There are a lot of college educated voters here who lean in a more liberal direction, and Democrats think they can improve on the president's numbers. And that's why Obama's here.

CORNISH: Another demographic that Democrats are paying attention to there - African-American voters. And so far, early voting numbers are showing that African-American turnout is down. How big a worry is that?

HORSLEY: It is definitely a concern. Here in North Carolina, you might attribute some of that drop off in the early African-American vote to Republican efforts to limit early voting. Those efforts were only partially reversed by the federal court.

But there is also an enthusiasm gap compared to what you saw four years ago and eight years ago when there was an African-American candidate at the top of the ticket. We see that not only here in North Carolina but also in Florida where early voting has actually expanded relative to 2012. And yet the African-American turnout thus far is still down.

That's another reason the Clinton campaign has decided to focus a lot of the president's time here. He's going to be back in North Carolina again on Friday. He's hoping to spark a big weekend of early voting, including Sunday when a lot of black churches will be organizing those Souls to the Polls drives.

CORNISH: That's NPR's Scott Horsley traveling with the president. Scott, thanks so much.

HORSLEY: Good to be with you, Audie.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: We incorrectly say early voting in North Carolina extends through Sunday. In fact, the last day for early voting in the state is Saturday, Nov. 5.] Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.