News Column

RNC Chairman Appears as Romney Staff Exits NC

Oct. 19, 2012

Michael Hewlett

GOP elephant

Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, came to Winston-Salem on Thursday morning to fire up local Republicans on the first day of early voting.

"We know we need to hire Mitt Romney and fire Barack Obama," he told a crowd of about 75 people at the Forsyth County Republican Party's headquarters off Peters Creek Parkway.

After his speech, Priebus said early voting is critical to the presidential election. He said he feels good about Romney's chances in North Carolina, a battleground state. The enthusiasm that existed for President Obama in 2008 is now gone because he has disappointed people, Priebus said.

"The pixie dust is gone," he said.

Romney's campaign appears as confident as Priebus. The campaign said Thursday that it is shifting resources and some workers from North Carolina to other states.

Campaign official Michael Levoff said Thursday the shift includes key senior staff in North Carolina, including chief spokesman Robert Reid. Levoff points to "increasingly widening polls" in the state for the move. He said the state's 24 Republican campaign offices will remain open and expects strong get-out-the-vote efforts to continue.

Cameron French, a spokesman for the N.C. Obama campaign, says it remains fully committed to North Carolina and that Romney is signaling he's taking North Carolina votes for granted. Obama won the state in 2008 by about 14,000 votes -- the first time a Democrat won since Jimmy Carter in 1976. On Tuesday, Michelle Obama spoke in Chapel Hill and Obama's campaign bus is touring the state.

Joining Priebus Thursday were state Sen. Andrew Brock, a Republican from Mocksville who is running unopposed for Senate District 34, which includes Davie County and parts of Rowan and Iredell counties. Also in attendance was Forsyth County Commissioner Debra Conrad, a Republican who is running for House District 74 against Democrat David Wayne Moore.

Priebus castigated Obama for breaking campaign promises and being a man who "is in love with the sound of his own voice."

"I think this president has a problem with the American dream," Priebus said. "That seems like a harsh thing to say, but he has a problem with success or he is willing to use that to divide this country."

Priebus' visit was part of a series of visits by Republicans throughout the state to encourage early voting. Former presidential candidate Rick Santorum spoke in Charlotte, Hickory and Gastonia on Thursday. Priebus appeared at the Greensboro Victory Office on West Market Street immediately after his Winston-Salem speech.

Scott Cumbie, chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party, said he has noticed more people choosing to vote early.

"The important thing is to vote, whether early or on Nov. 6," he said.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Source: (c) 2012 Winston-Salem Journal (Winston Salem, N.C.)

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