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GOP leaders question Hagan's absence from Obama's NC State speech

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A spokesman for Sen. Kay Hagan says the freshman sophomore will not attend President Obama's speech at N.C. State. A spokesman for Sen. Kay Hagan says the freshman sophomore will not attend President Obama's speech at N.C. State.
N.C. Republican Party chair Claude Pope questions why Sen. Kay Hagan will not attend the president's speech. N.C. Republican Party chair Claude Pope questions why Sen. Kay Hagan will not attend the president's speech.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Democratic Senator Kay Hagan will not be in attendance when President Obama speaks on Wednesday at North Carolina State University. 

A spokesman for the freshman senator said she will remain in Washington, D.C., while the Senate meets.

"She's in session. She's going to be in Washington, D.C., doing her job," spokesman Chris Hayden said.

State Republicans are criticizing the move.

"She accompanied Obama back in 2011 to North Carolina when the Senate was also in session," N.C. Republican Party chair Claude Pope said. "So I think that's a poor excuse."

David McLennan, chair of the political science department at William Peace University, said the senator likely wants to distance herself from a president with dwindling approval ratings in an election year.

"I think what she's hoping is President Obama will come to North Carolina and get the democrats revved up again," McLennan said, "but still not have to share the stage with him and be, potentially, attacked for it."

Expect attacks anyway. The conservative group Americans for Prosperity already has ads on the air linking Hagan to the botched Obamcare rollout. That same group will be out protesting the president on Wednesday.

Economic Message

This is President Obama's first visit to N.C. State since September 2011. Back then, Obama urged Congress to pass a jobs bill.

That bill ultimately did not pass, but the economy has improved. North Carolina's unemployment rate was stuck at 10.7 percent that month. Most recent data for November 2013 has it down to 7.4 percent.

"I think the president wants some credit," McLennan said. "I think the president wants to say it was his stimulus package back in '09 that was contributing to these jobs."

But Pope said credit belongs to state Republicans.

"I think the economy is improving despite his policies," Pope said. "We're already seeing many new corporations looking at the state of North Carolina, to move their plants and facilities here. A lot of that has to do with the tax reform that our governor and the legislature has passed."

WNCN will carry the president's remarks live on TV and the Web. Obama is scheduled to speak at 1:05 p.m. inside the J.W. Isenhaur Tennis Center at N.C. State University.

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Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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