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Richard Burr: Barack Obama Can’t Win N.C.

Scott J. Ferrell/CQ Roll Call File Photo

Politicians tend to hedge when asked to predict the outcome of major elections one year out.

But today Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) flatly dismissed any suggestion that President Barack Obama can win North Carolina in 2012, despite winning the state in 2008 and the fact that next year’s Democratic nominating convention is in Charlotte. Obama won a narrow victory there three years ago, garnering 49.7 percent of the vote, but it was significant, as he became the first Democrat to carry the state in a presidential race since 1976.

“He’s done there,” Burr said of Obama’s prospects in the Tar Heel State. “The decision to go to Charlotte will probably be the worst decision that the Democrats make in this election cycle. ... I think North Carolinians have seen him make a transition from a president that was a uniter to a president that’s become a divider, and I think that best exemplifies the difference in the four years.”

Burr, currently the Republicans’ chief deputy whip and a candidate for Republican Whip in the 113th Congress, won a second term in 2010. During a half-hour interview with Roll Call in his Capitol Hill office, Burr said he remains neutral in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. However, the Senator indicated that his position could change.

Burr is pleased with the breadth of the GOP field — in particular complimenting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney — and said the competitive primary would generate a battle-hardened nominee prepared to wage a strong campaign against the president. He rejected the contention of some political observers that Obama is benefiting from a fluid Republican race that has the candidates focused more on taking down each other than the incumbent.

“I think we’re in a much better position to come out of, probably, the early primaries with a nominee that feels comfortable in their own skin, comfortable about what they believe. And, more importantly, has refined the message of what they want to do as president,” Burr said. “Clearly, Gov. Romney has showed consistent support, not just in the early primary states but around the country. I don’t think that it’s discouraging that one candidate hasn’t broken out.”

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