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Obama Plugs Minimum Wage Increase on North Carolina Visit

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(ASHEVILLE, N.C.) -- After steering clear of North Carolina for most of the 2012 campaign, President Obama on Wednesday held up the Tar Heel state as a poster child for his economic vision and "signs of solid progress" that developed during his first term.

Reprising the themes of his State of the Union address, Obama touted a resurgence in American manufacturing jobs and called for steps to keep the trend going: expanding manufacturing institutes across the states; reform the corporate tax code; and boost worker training to match them with open high-skilled jobs.

He said the Linamar Corp., a Canadian-based manufacturer that hosted the event, illustrates a positive "insourcing" trend -- setting up shop in Asheville in 2011 and hiring hundreds of workers for high-skilled jobs.

Those workers make well above the minimum wage, but Obama said those who make less often work just as hard and deserve help to earn more.

"I believe we reward effort and determination with wages that allow working families to raise their kids and get ahead," Obama said of his proposal to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour. "If you work full-time you shouldn't be in poverty."

In a lighter moment at the top of the speech, Obama tried to soften some of the criticism that has surrounded his avoidance of the state for the past year.

"I love coming to Asheville!" he exclaimed.

"Michelle and I always talk about how, if after this whole presidency thing, you know... we're looking for a little spot to come down... playing a little golf, doing a little hiking, fishing," he said.  The first family vacationed here early in Obama's first term.

"There are two things that keep bringing me back here," he added. "Number one is I really like the people; number two is 12 Bones, which I will be stopping at on the way back to the airport."

After the speech, however, Obama did not make a pit-stop at the barbeque joint. Instead his motorcade headed straight to the airport to fly home.

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