Kathleen Parker slams President Obama and his team for sending the embattled incumbent to North Carolina this week. Her piece discussed a “foolhardy trip” to a state beset by the political storm involving local Democrats. John Edwards is on trial, and the state party chair is ensnared in a sexual harassment scandal.
“Either Obama’s staffers are so consumed with other matters that they failed to focus on what was happening down South,” Parker writes. “Or, they know they don’t have to worry about untoward treatment by the media.” Or maybe, just maybe, the Obama folks are fully aware of the drama but are so mindful that the Tar Heel State factors into their reelection hopes that they don’t care about the drama.
Obama won North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes in 2008 by just 0.4 percent. As the Charlotte Observer pointed out last month, Obama was the first Democrat to carry the state since Jimmy Carter in 1976. Yesterday’s visit was his second this year and follows many visits by members of his administration and the first lady during the Obama presidency. And this strategy might be working.
According to a recent poll by Elon University, the president’s “job marks have improved slightly since last fall.” Last September, Obama’s job approval rating was 42 percent and disapproval was 51 percent. In the March survey, his approval number bumped up to 45 percent and disapproval slipped to 48 percent. Hardly stellar, but at least the ratings are going in the right direction.
With improving prospects — no matter how small — in North Carolina and the need to keep the state in Obama’s win column, I don’t blame his team for seeming not to care about the twin Tar Heel tempests. After all, it’s an easy stance to have when neither scandal has anything to do with the president, his administration or his policies.