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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney says he’s gained endorsements from three GOP House members in North Carolina, a state he says will be critical to efforts to unseat President Obama next year.

Romney says he has the support of Reps. Howard Coble, Virginia Foxx and Patrick McHenry. They were quoted in a Romney campaign news release Monday praising him for his economic acumen and plan to get more people working again.

North Carolina hasn’t been a well-trod state by GOP presidential candidates. The North Carolina primary is in May, when GOP voters in other states already may have settled on a nominee.

North Carolina is likely to be a battleground state in the general election since Obama won North Carolina’s electoral votes in 2008 by only 14,000 votes.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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