HIGH POINT, NORTH CAROLINA —
In U.S. Presidential politics, President Barack Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney are making a final push for votes in battleground states where key groups, like female voters, could decide the outcome of the November election.
One of those voters who has been thrust into the political spotlight and courted by Democrats and Republicans is Melanie McNamara, who owns a small furniture company in High Point, North Carolina. She is one of only a few manufacturers left in the city once called the "furniture capital of the world." McNamara promotes the "Made in America" cause.
"It is important for my city, it's important for my state and it's important for my country to still offer manufacturing jobs," McNamara said.
Her business success has catapulted her into the spotlight of presidential politics. She represents a demographic group - white female independent voters - that presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each need to win the election.
"Women are smart enough to see what is going on in this economy and they are not just one-issue voters," McNamara said.
President Obama is trying to hold onto his support among white women. A recent (Washington Post / ABC News ) opinion poll suggests the president is trailing Mitt Romney in support among whites and among independent voters. Obama won independent voters in 2008.
McNamara voted for Obama in 2008, but now supports Mitt Romney. She says the economy is her number one issue.
"I have seen in the last four years that not only manufacturing jobs have left but so many people are out of work here [in North Carolina] and I also see incomes dropping. When I go to the grocery store and I see people that are taking things out of their cart because they cannot afford them, that hits home," she said.
After the Romney campaign heard about McNamara they came calling, and she agreed to host a Romney rally at her furniture plant. It was a thrilling moment for her.
"When I had him here it was also nice to see him as an individual and not just the candidate that you see on TV making a speech," McNamara said.
The Romney campaign made McNamara's story the topic of a TV political ad.
Until now McNamara has not been active in politics. But she says it was time to speak out against proposed tax increases she says will hurt small business owners.
"If I do not have the revenue and I am going to be paying more taxes on everything else, then I am not going to have the revenue to grow my business, and if I cannot grow my business I cannot hire that next employee," she said.
McNamara says being an independent voter, courted by various political candidates, gives her a chance to voice ideas for improving the nation's economy by bringing manufacturing jobs back to an area of the country that needs them.