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  /  News   /  Trump, Biden take different approaches in swing state North Carolina

Trump, Biden take different approaches in swing state North Carolina

(NewsNation) —  North Carolina is a top target for both presidential campaigns, won by less than 75,000 votes for former President Donald Trump in 2020. While both campaigns are coordinating closely with their respective state parties, they have different plans for success. 

President Joe Biden’s campaign says it has opened 11 offices around the state, including in counties like Alamance and Cabarrus that voted for Trump in 2020. By the end of the month, they say they’ll have 40 paid staffers working in those offices. 

The Trump campaign, on the other hand, has no offices set up in the state yet. Campaign officials say they plan to target nontraditional voters as well as those who’ve voted for both parties over the years. 

Biden-Harris Campaign

The Biden campaign is trying to reach unaffiliated and Republican voters while mobilizing its base in the state. 

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In the state’s GOP primary, former Ambassador Nikki Haley garnered over 23% of the vote, evidence of a sizable group of voters that chose not to vote for Trump when given the chance. The Biden campaign has been running ads to reach those Haley voters.

 The campaign has been running ads in the state since last April, focusing on Black, Spanish, and AAPI (Asian-American Pacific Islander) media. 

The chair of the North Carolina Democrats, Anderson Clayton, believes the campaign’s early investment will pay off for its turnout operation. 

“In the month of March alone, the state party trained 830 people to know how to knock doors. And I think if you’ve got that many people coming out to do that … we’re going to be able to have armies in October, which is really exciting,” she said.

The Biden campaign is focusing on issues like abortion and health care in North Carolina.

North Carolina enacted a 12-week abortion ban last summer, and Biden hopes to make that a rallying point to flip the state in November. 

Last December, the state expanded Medicaid, and since then, 450,000 North Carolinians signed up for health care

Biden touted it as a win for the Affordable Care Act. Trump has said he would repeal and replace the ACA with something better, though he still has not offered what the replacement would be.  

The campaign also wants to highlight the administration’s work to eliminate student debt, create jobs, support clean energy and facilitate broadband access, issues the campaign says are vital to rural and disadvantaged North Carolinians.  

“While the Biden campaign invests in North Carolina early and meets voters where they are, Donald Trump has no presence in the state and continues to attack the voters he needs to win,” said Dory MacMillan, the campaign’s North Carolina communications director.

Trump Campaign

The Trump campaign and the North Carolina GOP are taking a slightly different approach.

“Thirty-seven percent of voters are unaffiliated, around 33% are Democrats, and 30% are Republicans. And just from that standpoint, you can’t only win with registered Republicans. You’ve got to go out and target unaffiliated and disaffected Democrats to pull together a successful statewide coalition,” said Matt Mercer, the North Carolina GOP communications director.

Mercer adds they would reach out to nontraditional voters as well as those who may have voted for both parties in the past.

The campaign is recruiting volunteers and training them in person and online, working on the “party building that’s essential to building the foundation to win in November.”

As of now, though, there are no offices in the state, and no ads have aired. 

When initially asked whether they would advertise through mail, television, and digital outlets, a Republican official said, “Likely, yes. It may look different. TV in one area, mail in another, digital — it’s all-encompassing what we plan to do.” 

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When pressed further about whether there would be TV and digital ads, they said, “Yeah, absolutely.”

Mercer expects resources to start being put to use after the state convention later this month, but the campaign didn’t offer more details. 

Republicans in North Carolina are leaning on the fact that two new co-chairs of the RNC are from North Carolina. Michael Whatley is the former chair of the state GOP, and Lara Trump was born in Wilmington. 

“We’re fortunate to have both Chairman Whatley and co-chair Lara Trump, who are intimately familiar with what it takes to win a statewide general election in North Carolina and will ensure that we have the resources to do so,” Mercer said.

An RNC spokesperson said Republicans plan to focus on inflation in North Carolina. The consumer price index is higher in the South, meaning North Carolinians may be feeling the impact of inflation more than other parts of the country.

The RNC spokesperson said Republicans also plan to raise gas prices in North Carolina. Although they are below the national average, they are still ten cents higher than last year. 

“We have paid staffers and volunteer-powered field programs in every battleground state, including North Carolina, and they are expanding daily,” said Karoline Leavitt, national press secretary for the Trump campaign. 

Impact of the governor’s race

Both campaigns believe that the gubernatorial race between the Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein and the Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson will help them win races up and down the ballot. 

The Biden campaign believes that Robinson — who has a history of making anti-gay and antisemitic comments — is a Trump candidate and that the whole slate will be so extreme it’ll be too much for voters. 

Mercer stands by Robinson, believing him to be a “bold, outsider candidate who really can appeal across the board to voters with his message of uplifting the economy.” 

Unsurprisingly, both parties believe that they have a more positive story to tell about their candidates and that the opposition is a drag on the ticket.