Republicans and conservative groups stepped up their attacks on North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan on Wednesday after the embattled Democrat did not show up for President Barack Obama's announcement of a $140 million manufacturing initiative in her state.
"Kay Hagan can run from her record of voting with President Obama 96 percent of the time, but she cannot hide," Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, told Newsmax.
"After misleading North Carolinians about whether they could keep their health insurance under Obamacare, it's clear Kay Hagan is feeling the heat from rubber-stamping the president's harmful agenda.
"Fortunately for North Carolinians, if they don't like their senator, they don't have to keep her," Short said.
"It's telling how hard President Obama tried to avoid discussing his signature healthcare law while Sen. Hagan avoided even being seen next to him," Tim Phillips, president of Americans for Prosperity, told Newsmax.
The group released a new video on Wednesday attacking Hagan for supporting Obamacare and other presidential efforts. AFP also held a rally against Obama's North Carolina visit.
"What's disheartening are the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who lost their health coverage and face higher premiums," Phillips said. "Sen. Hagan missed the point of our ad and rally when she claimed to be in Washington passing the budget-busting omnibus bill instead of explaining her support for the broken Obamacare law."
Story continues below video.
Speaking at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, Obama announced a $140 million public-private manufacturing hub to be housed at the university to develop next-generation power electronics.
"We're not going to turn things around overnight," he cautioned. "A lot of jobs were lost in the textile industry and furniture making."
But such efforts as the new Next Generation Power Electronics Institute could change things, the president said.
"This can be a breakthrough year for America," Obama said. "The pieces are all there to start bringing back more of the jobs that we've lost over the past decade."
The institute will focus on developing the next generation of energy-efficient, high-power electronic chips and devices that will be used to help make motors, consumer electronics and other devices that support the power grid.
North Carolina State will lead the effort, which involves 18 businesses and six universities.
Two other innovation hubs — one focusing on digital design and another on light-weight metals — will be announced within two weeks, Obama said.
The program is being paid for with $200 million in existing federal money.
But Hagan, 60, a first-term senator, was not at Wednesday's announcement, though lawmakers generally attend when a president visits their state.
A Hagan spokeswoman said she would be in Washington because the Senate is in session. Her absence stoked continued questions about whether Obama has become a drag on vulnerable Democrats facing re-election.
Obama, however, praised Hagan in his speech and said he expected to see her later Wednesday at a private meeting with Senate Democrats in Washington.
Further, Hagan's absence came a day after a Public Policy Polling
survey showed that the Democrat's approval rating had slipped by 4 percentage points over the last month, to 39 percent, compared with a 49 percent disapproval rating.
In a hypothetical race, Hagan is virtually in a dead heat
with all of her potential Republican rivals, the survey found.
"Sen. Hagan may not have appeared with President Obama today, but they'll continue to be close friends when he returns to D.C.," said Phillips, AFP's president. "From Obamacare to budget-busting spending bills, Sen. Hagan has got the president's back.
"They are so close they even talk alike, making the same broken promise that Americans won't lose their health plan under the new law."
The group charged in its video that Hagan's support for Obamacare has caused more than 437,000 North Carolina residents to lose their health coverage.
It also quotes both politicians as saying Americans could keep their health insurance and doctors if they liked them under Obamacare.
"Best friends Barack Obama and Kay Hagan support the same things, and often say the same things," the ad says. "So you'd think Sen. Hagan would be here to greet the president when he arrives in her state. Instead? She's hiding out in D.C."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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