Expert: NC senator performs ‘delicate dance' regarding president

by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - President Barack Obama's visit puts many eyes on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan as she seeks re-election.  The big question is how much she is -- or is not -- distancing herself from his administration. 
Tuesday's decision to speak at the convention in Charlotte was an easy call for Hagan. She planned to speak there long before the president announced his plans to show up. 
The two acted warm toward each other, hugging after the president's speech, but as political expert Michael Bitzer said, Hagan's going to have to keep doing this "delicate dance" between being close with the president and keeping her distance.

Read more: NC senator braces for Obama's visit to her state
"She needs that base, but she also needs to peel off as many independent moderate voters (as possible) to put together that winning coalition," Bitzer said. 
Hagan wants her base to know that she votes with the president more than 90 percent of the time, but that she's also independent of him, not a clone, and more moderate. 
She's even running an ad about the National Journal ranking her the most moderate senator in 2013, and her campaign sent Action 9 a statement, quick to point out she's not afraid to break from the administration when it came to "opposing the president's trade deals and budget."
It's a tough situation for Hagan, but a good one for her opponent, Thom Tillis, and his strategists. 
Tillis campaign manager Jordan Shaw says, "On issue after issue, whether it is the VA, the IRS scandal, whether it's any of these issues we've seen the president's administration failing to lead, she's been in lock-step with him."
They're able to spin it both ways. A recent Tillis campaign statement said in situations where Hagan criticized the president, she was being "opportunistic," and in cases where she's sides with him, it calls her a "rubber stamp."

WATCH Obama's speech: