believes Romney is the stronger candidate on manufacturing.
"We certainly haven't seen any great programs that have been initiated and fulfilled, from a state level or from a federal level," Cochrane said. "I believe Romney is an astute business man. He's run companies. ... He has experience."
Romney has also highlighted North Carolina businesses. He and running mate Paul Ryan made a campaign stop at a High Point furniture maker earlier this month.
Romney also has supporters at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, where he stopped in May to give a speech from the factory floor.
Before the speech, Romney met with a dozen employees, including line workers, supervisors, secretaries and managers, according to CEO Roddey Dowd Jr. One participant told Romney about U.S. foundry closures over the last decade because of competition with China.
"He said, 'I'm going to get tough on China. Enough's enough.' To us, that sounds like maybe a fair chance," Dowd said. "The guy gets China, and I think he's going to do something about it."
Obama represents "the most anti-business administration that I've ever seen," Dowd said.
At the Democratic National Convention, delegates will ratify a party platform that includes manufacturing themes, including boosting exports, ending tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas, and "insourcing," or bringing American jobs back home.
"Everyone agrees that jobs and the economy is the number one issue for all the campaigns, down the ballot," said state Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro, an N.C. delegate and member of the party's platform committee. "The president's approach is building the economy from the middle (class) out, rather than the top down, which is the Romney-Ryan strategy."
The platform includes a nod to creating clean energy jobs, which Obama touted in March during a speech at a Daimler Trucks manufacturing plant in Gaston County. In 2010, Obama visited Celgard, a high-tech Charlotte firm that makes a key component for batteries used in hybrid vehicles.
He celebrated the company for its green energy technology and for adding jobs due in part to his $787 billion federal stimulus program, from which Celgard received a $49 million grant.
Other countries are showing interest in this technology: Recently, a Chinese company invested heavily in a Michigan firm that makes batteries for electric vehicles, according to The Wall Street Journal.
For the U.S. to remain ahead in the green technology race, government will have to invest, according to Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
"The rapid development of clean technology should not be a partisan issue," Smith said. "Our government plays a critical role in supporting research, promoting development and providing incentives ... to ensure the United States remains a clean tech leader through the 21st century."
Obama offers outreach
A. Blanton Godfrey, dean of the College of Textiles at N.C. State University, said he's still waiting to hear "very specific proposals on both sides" to keep his part of the manufacturing industry ahead of other countries through education, research and innovation.
"Obama has said a lot more about it," Godfrey said, "and he's created advisers in manufacturing and advanced manufacturing."
The Obama administration's outreach to the Carolinas textile community included inviting companies to a roundtable discussion in January in Gastonia with trade official Francisco Sanchez.
Invitees included National Spinning, a 91-year-old company with six North Carolina locations, including Lincolnton. Bob Miller, executive vice president, said the company isn't taking sides in the presidential election.
But he said government leadership in general hasn't identified with the challenges of textile companies like National Spinning, which has moved toward more specialized products to stay competitive.
To make fabrics that go into mattresses, ground coverings, even wet wipes, the company imports raw materials and fibers since its U.S. suppliers went out of business, Miller said.
Duties on these imports run high, but the government hasn't taken steps to lift these taxes, Miller said.
"Generally speaking, we're trying to create jobs in eastern North Carolina, and now in the Piedmont as well," Miller said. "Government hasn't done much to help us. We try to help ourselves."
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