While Not Campaigning in N.C., Obama Talks About 2012 Convention, Election

By Fred Lucas | October 18, 2011 | 10:55 AM EDT

President Barack Obama speaks at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, N.C., on Monday, Oct. 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

(CNSNews.com) - President Barack Obama, on a bus trip the White House says is not part of his re-election campaign, is wooing voters in North Carolina and Virginia, two Republican-leaning states he won in 2008--and hopes to win again.

"Somebody asked me--we had a wonderful reporter come here, Dave Wagner from Charlotte, and he asked me, ‘Well, people tell me this is kind of a Republican area, so why would you come here instead of going to where there are a whole lot of Democrats?' Obama said Monday evening at West Wilkes High School in Miller Creek, N.C. "I said, look, this is an American Jobs Act. It's not the Democratic jobs act. It's not the Republican jobs act. It's the American Jobs Act."

The White House says Obama is making the three-day, taxpayer-funded trip to promote his jobs plan, which failed last week in the Democrat-led Senate. Obama is now pushing Democrats to pass the legislation piecemeal.

On Monday, Obama told his audience in Miller Creek that his plan would mean 13,000 more education jobs in North Carolina.

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"All over the country and right here in North Carolina folks are losing their jobs. Nearly 2,000 classroom positions have been eliminated this school year," Obama said. "And here at West Wilkes High I know some teachers weren't rehired. You've had to increase class sizes, and there's almost no money for things like textbooks."

He also mentioned 2012 Democratic National Convention that will be held in Charlotte, N.C.

"By the way, there's going to be an election, and we're going to have a convention right here in North Carolina," Obama said. "But that convention is 11 months away. The election is 13 months away, and folks can't afford to wait that long (for jobs)."

The state's unemployment rate now stands at 10.4 percent, which is expected to make N.C. far more competitive in 2012.

Obama questioned how the United States can compete against other countries if teachers are losing their jobs. He said Republican members of Congress will have to explain their opposition to his jobs plan.

"They're going to have to come down here to North Carolina and tell kids why they can't have their teachers back," Obama said. "They're going to have to look construction workers in the eye and tell them why they shouldn't be rebuilding roads and bridges and airports. They're going to have to explain to working families why their taxes are going up while the richest Americans and largest corporations are getting a sweet deal."

As CNSNews previously reported, Republicans say Obama's "jobs" bill is actually a second stimulus bill funded by tax increases on the wealthy.

On the same day Obama pitched his jobs plan in N.C., Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) blasted him for "clearly campaigning" on the "taxpayer's dime," USA Today reported.

"I've never seen an uglier bus than the Canadian one he's traveling around on," McCain was quoted as saying. "A Canadian bus touting American jobs."

McCain also criticized Obama for trying to create jobs through government spending, rather than from economic growth.

Last week, McCain was among the Republicans introducing an alternative jobs bill -- the Jobs Through Growth Act. The legislation would reform the tax code, cut spending, and curb regulations to "help foster and environment in which the private sector can grow, invest and create jobs in America again," Republican sponsors said in a news release.

"We Republicans understand that it's a growing, dynamic private sector that creates quality jobs for the long term and real prosperity in America, not government spending," said McCain. "The Jobs Through Growth Act will help give the certainty and confidence that our private sector so badly needs to invest, grow and create jobs again."

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