RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Republicans criticized President Joe Biden's record as he visited Raleigh on Thursday afternoon, where he delivered a speech at Abbott's Creek Community Center before heading to a campaign stop where he met with the family of a Wake County Public Schools staffer.
"When you think about the fact that President Biden was able to run in 2020 without a record, he now has a record that he has to face, and it's a record that's really not good for North Carolina voters," said NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley.
The president's trip to the Triangle came exactly one week after Vice President Kamala Harris traveled to Charlotte to discuss gun violence and mental health resources for students.
FULL SPEECH: Joe Biden talks economy in Raleigh
In 2020, former President Donald Trump carried North Carolina by just 1.4% -- that was the fifth closest margin of any state in the U.S. Despite falling short in North Carolina, Biden improved on Hillary Clinton's performance in 2016. Now, Democrats look to flip the state in November.
"It's going to be the most important state in the entire cycle," said Whatley. "When you look at the map, as you said, there's no way for a Republican to get to the White House without North Carolina. We know it, the Democrats know it, all of the candidates know it. So we're going to have a high visibility target on us."
Historically, it's also a state that Republicans cannot afford to lose; the last time a Republican won the presidency without North Carolina was Dwight Eisenhower in 1956.
"I think (Democrats are) going to invest here heavily. It's really the only battleground state that President Trump won in both 2016 and 2020. They don't have that many states that they're going to pick up around the country. At the same time, it's a critical state for Republicans," said Whatley.
Biden was in town to discuss expanding broadband access while touting his economic accomplishments.
"Wages are up. Household wealth is up, not only for middle-class Americans, for Latinos, for Black Americans, for minorities. Costs are still too high. But inflation continues to fall and mortgage rates are falling, and they're going to fall more," said Biden.
Whatley said inflation is the one issue that has drawn the most attention.
"The biggest by far is inflation. When you think about the fact in the Trump administration, inflation was below 2%. Since President Biden took over, it's 17%. That's the cost of bread, that's the cost of electricity. It's the cost of gasoline," said Whatley.
In a statement, North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, a Republican who is running for Congress in NC-14, wrote of the President's visit:
When voters gave North Carolina Republicans the majority in the legislature, Democrats had left North Carolina with a record $2.5 billion deficit. Thanks to North Carolina Republicans' tax cuts, pro-business policies, and responsible spending, we've turned that around from a deficit to a surplus year after year to the tune of $6.5 Billion in 2022-2023 alone.
"Perhaps President Biden should take notes from North Carolina Republicans and our economic success rather than spend taxpayer dollars touting failed Bidenomics," Moore added.
This visit is a desperate attempt to flip a 15-year low approval ratingPhil Berger, NC Senate Leader
Following his speech at Abbott's Creek, Biden and Gov. Roy Cooper stopped by the Cook Out on Falls of Neuse Road. Biden got a vanilla milkshake with chocolate syrup, and Cooper got a milkshake with M&Ms.
While there, the politicians spoke with workers and posed for selfies.
Taking note of Biden's Cook Out visit, North Carolina Senate Leader Phil Berger's press office pointed out the 28% increase in the fast-food chain's Cook Out Tray during the last three years.
Berger himself took a shot at the economic struggles during Biden's time as president. He noted that "Bidenomics" was behind inflation, the steep rise in the average price of gas, electricity, milk, and beef, and the 30-year fixed rate mortgage average, which is 79% higher than what it was when Biden took office.
"From shutting down energy independence to making trips to the grocery store unaffordable, the incoherence coming from the Oval Office has resulted in higher costs for families and businesses," Berger said. "You'd think with all the time the Biden administration has spent in North Carolina it would learn a thing or two about real economic success. That is sadly not the case, and the American people are stuck paying the tab for President Biden's disastrous record.
"This visit is a desperate attempt to flip a 15-year low approval rating," Berger added.
The Republican National Committee labeled Biden's visit part of his "Bankrupting America Tour."
"Three years into Joe Biden's presidency, it's clear that Bidenflation isn't going anywhere but up, said RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel. "With prices over 17% higher and real wages over 2% lower than in January 2021, North Carolina families are undoubtedly worse off thanks to Bidenomics."
After his Cook Out side trip, the president met with Eric Fitts, who has worked for Wake County Public Schools in several roles since 2007. Fitts, a recipient of student debt forgiveness, described the hour-plus-long meeting.
"That program has given relief to me, which has then given relief to my sons. And that's just a tremendous burden that has been lifted," Fitts said. "We talked about that a little, but just really about his work that he's been doing. And it's just a surreal experience. I'm kind of in awe of meeting the president, let alone him being here in our house."
Fitts further expressed his desire to see greater support for educators.
"We need more teachers, and we need to pay teachers more money," he said. "We want the best for our kids. Having the best for our kids, we know we need the best teachers available. We have to compensate teachers as much as we possibly can."