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Entries in North Carolina (29)

Wednesday
Mar072012

Obama Visits Swing State North Carolina

President Obama greets employees during a tour of the Daimler Trucks North America Manufacturing plant in Mount Holly, North Carolina. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(MT. HOLLY, N.C.) -- President Obama’s 13th official visit to North Carolina, a key swing state, is set against the backdrop of a frustrated electorate whose support will likely be the most difficult for Obama to recapture in November.

Obama won North Carolina in 2008 by the narrowest margin of any state – just 14,000 votes, or 0.3 percent.  But his standing among voters in the state has been slipping.

A new Elon University poll of Tar Heel State residents shows Obama’s job approval rating is underwater, with just 45 percent giving him a thumbs-up overall and fewer, 43 percent, giving him the same for his handling of the economy.

A majority – 51 percent — disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy, a not unsurprising figure given that North Carolina’s 9.9 percent unemployment rate was the fifth-highest in the country in December, according to the Labor Department.

“His electoral future in the Tar Heel state is anything but certain,” said Mileah Kromer, a political science professor at Elon University and director of the school’s poll.

The Obama campaign has nine offices open across the state, recruiting volunteers, organizing canvasses and registering voters for the fall. Aides say added spotlight on the state with the Democratic National Convention planned for Charlotte in September will also help raise Obama’s profile.

First lady Michelle Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have also made recent trips to the state to meet with supporters and raise cash for the convention as well as the 2012 campaign.

But in spite of the push, even some Democrats are publicly skeptical of Obama’s claim to North Carolina’s 15 electoral votes.

Obama “will probably lose North Carolina,” former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean told The Nation last month.  Dean added, however, that he thinks Obama will still pull off a narrow re-election.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Feb022012

Rep. Heath Shuler, N.C. Democrat, Not Seeking 4th Term

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Heath Shuler, the North Carolina chairman of the centrist Democrat Blue Dog coalition, announced Thursday he will not seek a fourth term in the House of Representatives this fall.

He’s the sixth member of the moderate Blue Dog coalition to retire heading into the 2012 election cycle. Twenty-eight Blue Dogs were defeated in 2010, demonstrating how difficult it can be to stay in office as a moderate in an increasingly partisan Congress.

“Last week I spent a lot of time at home with my family discussing the possibility of running for governor of North Carolina. This time of reflection and prayer gave us the opportunity to talk about the best course of action for us as a family moving forward,” Shuler explained in a written statement revealing his decision. “It was during this time that I reached the decision not to seek re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012.”

The North Carolina Democrat’s retirement does not come as too much of a surprise. His district was torn apart during redistricting this year and he has had his eye on the governor’s race in his state, although he ultimately decided against running for that position too.

Shuler, who is just 40 years old, is the twelfth House Democrat to announce his or her retirement this cycle. Seven House Republicans have also decided not to seek re-election.

He said his decision to retire from Congress “is a decision I have weighed heavily over the past few months” but he said he is “ready to refocus my priorities and spend more time at home with my wife Nikol and two young children.”

The former NFL quarterback also made headlines when he sought a position as the University of Tennessee’s athletic director last year, although Shuler was ultimately passed over for the job. Shuler was the third overall pick in the 1994 NFL Draft, selected by the Washington Redskins, where he played three seasons before moving on to the New Orleans Saints for one season.

President Obama’s prospects for re-election rest heavily in his ability to hold onto the Tar Heel State’s 15 electoral votes, which he won by a narrow margin in 2008, 49.7-49.4 over Sen. John McCain.

Shuler said he is proud of the work of the Blue Dog Coalition, which suffered the brunt of the Democrats' defeat in the 2010 midterm elections, for putting the country “on a sound fiscal path and promote civility and common-sense solutions amid the divisive, highly-partisan political climate in Washington.”

“Though my time in Congress will come to an end after this year, my work to move our state and country forward will not,” Shuler promised. “Reducing our $15 trillion national debt and crafting bipartisan solutions to the many problems facing our nation remain my highest priorities. Leaving Congress will give me the opportunity to focus my time and energy on these initiatives without the constant demands of a re-election campaign.”

An avowed moderate, Shuler often butted heads with Democratic leaders. He challenged Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi for her position as minority leader “to send a message” to the California Democrat following the Democrats’ loss in the 2010 midterm elections, when more than 60 House Democrats suffered defeat at the hands of the GOP. Shuler won the support of 43 of his colleagues, but it was not enough to overcome Pelosi’s grip on 150 of their Democratic colleagues.

The fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition was formed in 1995 with the goal of representing the center of the House of Representatives and appealing to the mainstream values of the American public.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jan262012

NC Gov. Bev Perdue Declines to Run in 2012

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- North Carolina Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue will not seek re-election in 2012, a Democratic source confirmed to ABC News.

That decision should improve President Obama’s chances in the state next November, as Perdue is deeply unpopular, and that unpopularity could have hurt the president -- and Democrats in general -- in North Carolina in 2012.

Perdue will make the announcement Thursday. The North Carolina Democratic Party would not confirm whether Perdue had declined to run, only that an announcement would be made Thursday.

In April, an Elon University poll showed that Perdue’s approval ratings had sagged behind Obama’s in the state. Perdue’s disapproval rating was 52 percent, while her approval rating was 33 percent.  Obama, meanwhile, enjoyed a 48 percent job-approval rating and a 46 percent disapproval rating in North Carolina. While reliable polls have been hard to come by in North Carolina, since April a string of automated phone surveys have corroborated Perdue’s unpopularity.

Obama carried North Carolina in 2008, 50 percent to 49 percent for Sen. John McCain. Democrats made significant gains in North Carolina in 2006, and, along with Obama’s victory in Virginia in 2008, North Carolina gave the party hope of an expanded electoral map and newfound competitiveness in the South.

Obama’s campaign has said it would focus its efforts again on North Carolina in 2012.

“We put the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., in part because we believe so deeply in this map,” campaign manager Jim Messina said in aYouTube fundraising video that laid out Obama’s potential electoral strategy in late December.  Had Perdue remained in office, she could have dampened the campaign efforts of President Obama, who would presumably have campaigned alongside Perdue and shared the stage with her at North Carolina events.

The top Republican candidate to replace Perdue is Pat McRory, who ran against Perdue and lost in 2008. Democrats do not yet have a leading candidate to step into the race, although Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx appear to be likely contenders.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct172011

Obama: ‘Maybe Congress Couldn’t Understand’ Jobs Bill

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(ASHEVILLE, N.C.) -- On the tarmac of an airport badly in need of repair, President Obama on Monday launched his second bus tour since August, and formally announced that his jobs bill would be broken up into parts, taking an even more combative tone with -- even insulting -- Congress.

“Maybe they couldn’t understand the whole thing at once,” the president said to laughter. “We’re going to break it up into bite-sized pieces, so they -- they can take a thoughtful approach…We’re going to give members of Congress another chance to step up to the plate and do the right thing.”

He said he hoped the first provision would provide funding for states and localities to continue to keep teachers, police officers, and firefighters on the job.

The president has been faulted by congressional Democrats for not focusing enough on the economy in the first two years of his term, a criticism he tried to re-focus Monday. “Once you escape the partisanship and the political point-scoring in Washington, once you start really listening to the American people, it’s pretty clear what our country and your leaders should be spending their time on,” he said.

“Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!” chanted the crowd.

“We should be talking about jobs,” the president agreed. “When you hear what’s going on out in the country, when you take the time to listen, you understand that a lot of folks are hurting out there.”

The Asheville appearance was the first on a three-day bus tour through two highly competitive battleground states that the president won in 2008 but may not in 2012: North Carolina and Virginia.

A recent poll of North Carolina voters by Elon University found 57 percent disapprove of President Obama’s handling of the economy, with 37 percent approving. A Quinnipiac University Poll found that 51 percent say President Obama does not deserve re-election, with 44 percent saying he does.

Unlike previous appearances when he faulted the Republicans in Congress for not having a jobs plan, the president acknowledged that the other party had introduced a bill called the “Real American Jobs Act.”

But he challenged that title, saying the GOP legislation amounted to little more than a plan “to gut regulations...to let Wall Street do whatever it wants...to drill more...(And) to repeal health care reform. That’s their jobs plan.”

“I’ll let you decided which plan is the real American jobs act,” the president said.

When the supportive, modestly-sized group of just a few hundred gathered on the tarmac began chanting “Four more years! Four more years!” the president said “I appreciate the ‘Four more years,’ but right now I’m focused on the next 13 months.”

The president said he was giving the opposition another chance to embrace his bill. Last week, 51 Senate Democrats voted to bring the bill up for debate, not enough to block a threatened Republican filibuster.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep282011

Too Much Democracy? A Modest Proposal From NC Gov. Bev Perdue

Comstock/Thinkstock(CARY, N.C.) -- North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue caused a bit of a stir this week when she suggested that maybe Americans should call off a round or two of elections and let politicians focus on government instead of getting elected.

It’s not going to happen, of course -- the United States has held elections through the Civil War and World Wars and the Great Depression -- but it speaks to the general frustration many Americans have with partisanship and gridlock in Washington.

“You have to have more ability from Congress, I think, to work together and to get over the partisan bickering and focus on fixing things,” Perdue said, speaking at the Rotary Club in Cary, N.C., Tuesday. “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover....You want people who don’t worry about the next election.”

Her office suggested that the comments were some sort of hyperbolic joke, although she sounds serious on audio posted online.

Frustration with partisanship is not new and it is not isolated. Sixty-nine percent of Americans have a negative view of government, according to the most recent ABC News-Washington Post poll.

But Perdue’s suggestion to call off the 2012 general election has been coupled with a recent essay by Peter Orzsag, President Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget and a key figure in the passage of Democrats’ health law, and held up by conservative bloggers as part of a so-called democratic assault on democracy.

Orzsag, in an article titled “Too Much of a Good Thing: Why We Need Less Democracy,” said his stint working for the president convinced him that the country’s “political polarization was growing worse -- harming Washington’s ability to do the basic, necessary work of governing.”

“So what to do?” Orzsag asked in the article, published by the New Republic Sept. 14.

“To solve the serious problems facing our country, we need to minimize the harm from legislative inertia by relying more on automatic policies and depoliticized commissions for certain policy decisions. In other words, radical as it sounds, we need to counter the gridlock of our political institutions by making them a bit less democratic.”

He endorsed a more progressive tax system and Fed-style bodies to deal with everything from tax policy to infrastructure funding.

The idea that politicians need the ability to govern without so much concentration on politics runs against the whole idea of the U.S. system of government, according to Matthew Spalding, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

“We need to get directions from the American people,” he said of elections.

And the government, he said, should not operate exactly like a business. “It was designed so that it wouldn’t react immediately to things. One of the things you want to filter out is the passions of the moment. You don’t want an immediate negative reaction lead to a policy change of great magnitude. It needs to be deliberative. But it's still decisive,” Spalding said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep152011

Obama Promotes Jobs Bill in North Carolina

William Thomas Cain/Getty Images(RALEIGH, N.C.) -- President Obama continued his campaign to rally support for his $447 billion jobs bill, working the battleground state of North Carolina Wednesday, telling the people of Raleigh that he is “fed up” with Washington games that put politics before the needs of the country.

Once again, Obama spoke out against lawmakers who may try to “kick our problems down the road” to the next election and called out Republicans who oppose the bill because they don’t want to give the president “a win” by passing it.
 
”Give me a win?  Give me a break!” Obama told the supportive crowd of 9,300 at the campaign-style event at North Carolina State University.  “I get fed up with that kind of game plan.  And we’ve been seeing it for too long. … We’re in a national emergency.  We’ve been grappling with a crisis for three years, and instead of getting folks to rise up above partisanship in a spirit that says we’re all in this together, you’ve got folks who are purposely dividing, purposely thinking just in terms of how does this play out in terms of this election.”

The president, who catered his pitch to North Carolina, which has an unemployment rate of 10 percent, spent the bulk of his speech explaining how his bill would create tens of thousands of jobs in the state, put more money back in the pockets of middle-class families and help small business owners in the area.

Obama also announced a new initiative that would direct federal agencies to speed up their roughly $100 billion in annual payments to small businesses.  Under the new policy, the government would cut the time in half, from 30 to 15 days.

Wednesday’s event marked the president’s fifth jobs speech in seven days, his third in a critical swing state, which he carried narrowly in 2008.  Obama has held similar events in Virginia and Ohio.

Despite his multistate sales pitch, Americans seem skeptical that the president’s plan can create jobs and grow the economy.  According to a new Bloomberg poll, 51 percent of Americans do not believe Obama’s jobs bill will lower the nation’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate.

Furthermore, the president’s attempts to rally public momentum to “pass this bill” are falling flat.  Obama’s repeated calls to action have not led to an outpouring of public support, and lawmakers’ inboxes are not overflowing with messages from constituents urging them to act.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Sep142011

Obama’s Jobs Campaign Heads to North Carolina

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will take his jobs pitch to North Carolina Wednesday where he will highlight the ways the American Jobs Act would benefit small businesses and once again urge Congress to pass the legislation.

Obama’s speech Wednesday afternoon in Raleigh-Durham will be his fifth address on jobs in just seven days, and his third in a key battleground state.  Obama visited Ohio on Tuesday and Virginia last Friday.

The president’s first stop will be in Apex, where he will tour WestStar Precision, a small business the White House says will benefit from the American Jobs Act.

Obama will then deliver remarks on his jobs plan at North Carolina State University, “emphasizing the need for Congress to pass it now and put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of working Americans, while not adding a dime to the deficit,” according to the White House.

After returning to Washington, the first couple will attend the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Annual Awards Gala Wednesday evening.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Mar052011

Edwards Case: Watchdog Blasts Hiring of Former White House Lawyer

ABC News(HILLSBOROUGH, N.C.) -- A prominent campaign watchdog in North Carolina who has closely followed the federal investigation of John Edwards' campaign is strongly criticizing the addition of former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig to Edwards' legal defense team.

"Gregory Craig's involvement in this case is disturbing," said the watchdog, Joe Sinsheimer. "It raises the question of whether political influence can be bought and sold in Washington, D.C., even in criminal inquiries."

Craig is a high-profile Washington power broker who served as White House counsel during the first year of the Obama administration. He left the post late in 2009 and returned to private practice.

Craig did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment from ABC News, but in an interview Thursday with a North Carolina newspaper he said he has been in discussions with critical "decision makers" at the Department of Justice, advocating on behalf of Edwards.

"Mr. Craig is using the relationships he formed as White House legal counsel to try to manipulate a criminal investigation," he argued. "While Mr. Craig's actions may be technically legal, they violate the spirit of the law, which requires a two-year cooling off period before government officials can seek to influence their old colleagues."

In an interview with National Public Radio, which first reported Craig's hiring, Craig said those "revolving-door" rules apply to only the top three tiers of Justice Department officials. The Edwards' case is being led by the DOJ's Public Integrity Section, and Craig argued that the prohibitions do not apply to the lawyers and assistants there.

For more than two years, a federal grand jury has been hearing evidence in connection with more than $1 million that allegedly was used to support Edwards' mistress, Rielle Hunter, and to hide his affair with her. At its core, the investigation seeks to connect Edwards to those payments and, further, to show that he knew the payments were made with the intention of keeping his presidential campaign viable.

Sources with knowledge of the case have told ABC News that the investigation is complete and a final resolution could come before the end of March.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Feb012011

Democrats Pick Charlotte for 2012 Convention

Photo Courtesy - JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- The 2012 Democratic National Convention will be held during the week of Sept. 3 at the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, N.C., the DNC announced Tuesday.

First lady Michelle Obama announced the pick in an email to “Organizing for America” supporters, noting that Charlotte is a city marked by “southern charm, warm hospitality, and an 'up by the bootstraps’” mentality.

During the 2008 presidential election, then-Senator Obama fought hard as the party’s nominee to flip the state from red to blue.  Mr. Obama won the state narrowly in the general election 50 percent to John McCain’s 49 percent.

In 2012 the president will likely make an equally heavy push targeting the state in the general election. The choice of Charlotte to hold the party’s convention is just another sign the party hopes to keep the state squarely blue in 2012.

The city of Charlotte beat St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.

The Republican Party has set their own convention for Tampa, Fla., the week before the Democrats have their convention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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