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Latino Electorate Has Grown as N.C. Has Become Key Swing State

by Suzanne Gamboa /  / Updated 
U.S. President Barack Obama puts his hand on the back of U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton as they wave to the crowd together during a Clinton campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina.BRIAN SNYDER / Reuters

Back in 2008, when Hillary Clinton was hoping North Carolina would be a game changer for her against then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, there were 68,000 registered Latino voters in the state.

This year, there are an estimated 135,000 for her to woo as the state that become a key battleground state in the general election and polls have shown a tight race for Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump. Obama lost the state to Mitt Romney in 2012.

Clinton and Obama were in Charlotte on Tuesday, where they campaigned together rather than against each other. Both took on Trump, although Obama declined to pick a team among the state's college basketball teams.

Obama told the crowd at the Charlotte Convention Center there has never been anyone, man or woman, more qualified to be president than Clinton, adding that he recognized he is preaching to the choir. That comment drew shouts of "Preach! Preach!"

"I'm here to tell you the truth is nobody really understands the challenges of the job as president until you've sat at that desk," Obama said. "...Everybody can tweet but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you've sat behind the desk. I mean Sasha tweets, but she doesn't think she thereby should be sitting behind the desk."

Trump sends many of his missives against Clinton through Twitter.

Clinton spoke of Obama's achievements as president, of witnessing him going "toe-to-toe with the toughest foreign leaders" and "give the order to go after Osama bin-Laden."

"This, my friends, is a president who knows how to keep us safe and strong. Compare that to Donald Trump," Clinton said to boos. "Can you imagine him sitting in the oval office the next time America faces a crisis?"

According to Pew, there were just 10,000 Latino registered voters in North Carolina in 2004. But the state has seen high Latino growth in urban areas, including in Charlotte, where, in 2010, 13.1 percent of the population was Latino.

"In this election you are going to have a very clear choice to make between two fundamentally different visions of where America should go. This isn't really a choice between left and right or Democrat and Republican. This is a choice whether we are going to cling to some imaginary past or going to reach for the future," Obama said.

Related: Rapidly Changing North Carolina Becoming a Key Swing State

In all, 890,000 Latinos live in North Carolina and 248,000 people who are eligible to register to vote, according to Pew. About 60 percent

Clinton and Obama did not address the announcement by FBI Director James Comey that the FBI would not recommend she be criminally charged in the investigation of her use of personal servers for emails, though he also said she was careless in her use of them.

Trump was to campaign later Tuesday in Charlotte.

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