Politics & Government

5 things Hillary Clinton needs to do to win NC

AP

1. Send President Obama to Charlotte ...

With North Carolina’s electorate getting younger and more diverse every year, a Clinton victory in the state may hinge on her ability to get the band back together – the Obama band, that is.

African-Americans, Latinos, women, young people, urbanites, liberals – those are the voters who voted for Obama and will need to turn out in even greater numbers for Clinton if she is to carry the state.

The best way to fire up these Obama fans: Bring the president of the state’s largest city to headline a massive “I’m with Hillary” rally. In 2012, when the Democratic National Convention was in Charlotte, Obama had been scheduled to accept his party’s nomination during a mega-session at Bank of America Stadium.

The threat of rain scotched those plans. So reschedule it for this fall, as Clinton wages a new battle for North Carolina with Republican Donald Trump.

Obama seems eager to get out on the trail again: He endorsed Clinton last week, and will appear with her this week in Wisconsin – another swing state.

2. ... And route Bernie Sanders to the Triangle.

Clinton’s biggest challenge now is to unify the Democratic Party by reaching out to the millennials and liberals who fueled Sen. Bernie Sanders’ challenge to Clinton.

To get them to switch their allegiance to Clinton will take a persuasive salesman, someone who can make the case that staying away from the polls in November or voting for a third-party candidate is tantamount to voting for Trump.

If Clinton hopes to win over the college students she’ll need to carry North Carolina and other states, that salesman should be Sanders. Sending the Vermont senator to the Triangle, the Clinton team could reach students from UNC-Chapel Hill, Duke University, N.C. State University, N.C. Central University and more.

If Sanders is busy or unwilling, there’s always U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who is also a hit with the Democratic Left that has been suspicious of Clinton.

3. Invest in NC through Election Day.

Clinton probably doesn’t have to win North Carolina to be elected president. But the state’s 15 electoral votes could come in handy if, say, she lost two other swing states – Colorado (with 9) and Iowa (6).

And because North Carolina is a must-win for Trump, Clinton would be smart to invest and compete here – if only to force Trump to spend precious time and TV ad money in the state, said Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at Catawba College in Salisbury.

“Anything he spends here,” Bitzer said, “he can’t spend in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida” – all richer in Electoral votes and all states Clinton probably does need to carry.

In 2012, Obama had an organization in the state. But by October, it was clear that the state was no longer a front burner battleground for the president’s campaign. For starters, he never returned to the state after the September convention in Charlotte.

Andrew Bates, N.C. communications director for “Hillary for America,” said the Clinton campaign will work the state until the polls close in November. “Our grassroots organizers and volunteers are taking her message door-to-door now through Election Day,” he said in a statement.

4. Reach out to GOP women in the ’burbs.

Even some Republican women may have felt a stirring last week when it became clear that Clinton would make history as the first woman ever nominated for president by a major political party in the United States.

Contrast that with the anger and disappointment women, including some who usually vote Republican, have felt in response to Trump’s comments about – take your pick – women, immigrants, a disabled reporter, protesters, nuclear weapons, his body parts.

Polls indicate that up to 70 percent of women have an unfavorable opinion of Trump.

Clinton also has high negatives among voter groups. But her argument that Trump is unstable and too risky a choice could appeal to women in the GOP-friendly N.C. suburbs who may have been put off by Trump. In a close race, that could make a difference.

5. Run against House Bill 2.

The controversy over this North Carolina law has gone national, with the Obama Justice Department battling the state in the courts – and in the court of public opinion.

Clinton has entered the fray, too, tweeting this at one point: “LGBT people should be protected from discrimination under the law – period.”

Trump has been less clear on the issue: At first he said enacting HB2 was a mistake and that Caitlin Jenner could use any bathroom she wanted to at Trump Tower. That response infuriated some conservatives, leading Trump to later say that the issue should be up to individual states.

Still, some political operatives say Clinton should make her opposition to HB2 part of her pitch – at least when reaching out to LGBT voters and liberal partisans in North Carolina.

“I think she can take advantage of HB2,” said Gary Pearce, a retired Democratic political consultant and co-author of “Talking About Politics,” a N.C. blog. “It fits in with Clinton’s themes – ‘We’re all in this together. We don’t want to leave anybody out.’ And there’s the contrast with Trump: ‘His campaign is exclusionary. He’s a bully.’ 

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