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Perry, Bachmann court N.C. voters this week

Texas Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann will bring their GOP presidential campaigns to Charlotte on Thursday.

Perry, making his first visit to North Carolina as a contender for the White House, will be at San Antonio's restaurant in SouthPark mall at noon to raise money for his campaign. As the newest candidate in the GOP field and the leader in most polls of Republican voters, Perry hopes to make a splash with his fundraising total for the quarter ending this week.

Charlotte-area supporters willing to pay $1,000 will get lunch and a speech from the governor. Those who pay more - $2,500 per individual, $5,000 per couple - also will attend a VIP reception and get their photo taken with Perry.

Not invited: news media. A Perry spokeswoman said Monday the event is closed to reporters.

Among the hosts for what's being called a "Texas-style hospitality" event: former N.C. Sen. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte.

Bachmann, who is vying with Perry for the backing of the GOP's more conservative voters, is scheduled to discuss economic issues with Charlotte-area business executives at a 2 p.m. roundtable hosted by the Charlotte Chamber in its uptown offices.

"We've invited our board members and those members who have been active in our public policy efforts," said Charlotte Chamber president Bob Morgan.

After the roundtable, at 2:45 p.m., the Minnesota congresswoman is expected to answer questions from news media.

Earlier Thursday, Bachmann will be at Troutman's Barbecue in Concord for a 12:30 p.m. fundraiser - with proceeds going to the N.C. Republican Party.

The entry fee for what's being dubbed "An All-American Barbecue": $40 per person. Sponsors will pay $500 per couple.

Mecklenburg GOP Chairman Gideon Moore said Charlotte is likely to continue to be a hot spot for Republican presidential candidates in the coming months.

He cited three reasons: Charlotte has a reputation for being a good place for candidates to raise money; North Carolina will almost surely be a swing state in the 2012 general election; and "we are right across the state line from South Carolina," whose early GOP primary has a history of picking the eventual nominee.

To read more, visit www.charlotteobserver.com.

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