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Biden heads to North Carolina while Republicans Trump, DeSantis court state

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By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden travels to North Carolina on Friday to tout his economic agenda and pledge support to military families, spending time in a political swing state while Republican presidential candidates woo voters there, too.

Biden and his wife, Jill, will make stops at Nash Community College in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, to discuss workforce training programs and at the newly renamed Fort Liberty to talk about new efforts to help veterans and families of those serving in the military, the White House said.

Biden’s trip comes as Republican presidential candidates are converging on North Carolina for the state’s Republican convention. Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who are competing against each other and a field of others for their party’s 2024 presidential nomination, are expected to speak there.

Trump, who has a wide lead in polls over DeSantis, on Thursday declared himself an “innocent man” amid reports that he has been indicted by a federal grand jury for retaining classified government documents and obstruction of justice.

Biden, who is running for re-election, is likely to be asked about that development during his trip on Friday. The White House has said previously it would not comment on actions taken by the Justice Department.

The president’s trip underscores his team’s political strategy of highlighting Biden actively governing while Republican candidates compete with each other for the right to take him on in 2024. The so-called bully pulpit is a key advantage that incumbent presidents of both parties have long put to effective use.

North Carolina is an important political swing state that Trump won, though only with a slim margin in 2020, while still losing the presidency to Biden, who won with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

During his trip, Biden will announce a series of executive actions to “increase the economic security of military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors,” the White House said. He will do so at Fort Liberty, a U.S. Army base that was recently renamed from Fort Bragg as part of an effort to relabel bases named for Confederate officers.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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