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Romney to discuss economy at N.C. factory

At a Charlotte fundraiser last month, businessman Frank Dowd IV made Republican Mitt Romney an offer: If the campaign ever needed an event site, he’d happily offer his factory floor.

Now Romney’s taking him up on it.

The Republican presidential candidate is expected to talk about the economy Friday afternoon at Charlotte Pipe and Foundry, a company owned by the Dowd family for 111 years and one of the nation’s largest producers of residential and commercial pipes and fittings.

It will be the former Massachusetts governor’s second visit to Charlotte in less than a month, and comes as he ramps up operations in what’s expected to be a battleground state this fall.

On Thursday, Romney found himself in the unusual position of apologizing for a high school prank, detailed in the Washington Post, that some characterized as bullying. In high school, Romney said in an interview, “I did some dumb things.”

For a campaign that has tried to focus on the economy, the revelation threatened to overshadow some good news: A new Gallup Poll showed voters believe Romney would do a better job handling the economy than President Barack Obama.

Sixty-one percent of voters said Romney would do a good or very good job of handling the economy compared with 52 percent who said Obama would.

“President Obama can’t run on his record because the promises he made in 2008 haven’t come to fruition,” said Romney spokeswoman Sarah Pompei.

North Carolina’s unemployment rate was 9.7 percent in March. Only three states and the District of Columbia had higher rates.

But Obama supporters point to more positive numbers.

In the past 25 months, N.C. employers have created 108,500 new jobs statewide and 38,600 in the Charlotte area.

“President Obama has a proven record of moving this country forward by creating jobs, rescuing the auto industry and ensuring everyone does their fair share and plays by the same rules,” said Cameron French, N.C. spokesman for Obama for America.

“Gov. Romney has presented nothing to the people of North Carolina but a familiar economic scheme of more budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthy.”

Romney’s campaign is just getting geared up in North Carolina, a state where he won 66 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s presidential primary over a handful of candidates, only one of whom, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, is still in the race. A state director just started earlier this week.

By contrast, Obama’s campaign has opened 15 offices across North Carolina. Operatives have been in the state since 2008.

“People aren’t better off than they were four years ago,” Pompei said. “So to make up for that, they would rather focus on how many field offices they have in the state.”

Obama supporters point out that the president won more votes Tuesday than Romney as well as a higher percentage.

Obama won 759,000 votes to Romney’s 635,000. Obama got 79 percent of the Democratic vote.

But his only opponent? “No Preference.”