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01
There’s a direct line betweenRob Christensen’s Page 1 story today about why President Obama loves North Carolina and John Frank’s story yesterday about John and Ann Campbell’s role in the Wake school board race.
 
Long, long ago, before some of you were born, North Carolina had three industries: textiles, furniture and tobacco. In the 1970s, we realized the textiles and furniture were moving overseas and tobacco was, well, going up in smoke.
 
So leaders like Governors Jim Hunt and Jim Martin started recruiting different industries from across the country and around the world. Like Glaxo, as it was known then.
 
A lot of companies run by a lot of smart people – who needed to employ smart people and wanted schools that would help them raise smart children – started moving here.
 
North Carolina changed.  A provincial state became cosmopolitan. A thriving pharma industry took root in the Triangle (see the Campbells).
 
At first, a lot of those newcomers were Republicans – not Jesse Helms Republicans, but national Republicans.
 
Today, more and more of them are Independents and Democrats. So are their children, who go to public universities.
 
In 2008, all those people and their children rose up and voted Democratic, as did African-Americans excited about Obama. Republicans had missed the change that happened right in front of them. Obama’s team may be from Chicago, but they saw how North Carolina had changed.
 
That’s why, as I told Rob, North Carolina is the new Ohio in presidential politics.  (Just a lot nicer place.) And why Team Obama is spending time and money here.
 
Don’t be fooled by 2010. Those 2008 Democrats didn’t turn out. They saw what happened as a result. And the pool of potential new voters there – African-Americans, Hispanics, college students and suburbanites – is still huge for Democrats.
 
Now, North Carolina still has an awful lot of conservative folks. (Did you go to the Fair? You know what I mean.) And, this time, the Republicans won’t be asleep.
 
So we’re in for a year of political junkie heaven.
 

 

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31
Now Republicans are whining about elections being for sale.
 
A couple of weeks ago, Democrats were whining about Art Pope “buying” North Carolina. I suggested they stop whining and start winning by finding their own deep pockets.
 
It looks like the deep pockets found them.
 
John Frank reports in the N&O that a hereto-unknown couple in Raleigh, John and Ann Campbell, have emerged as big financial players in the Wake school board race.
 
Good for them for putting their money where their convictions – and their children – are.
 
But Susan Bryant, the Wake GOP chair, whines that they trying to buy the election. Last week, she whined about the “Obama organization.”
 
I assume that was intended to scare Republicans for Halloween.
 
Here’s the point for Democrats: There’s a lot of money out there. Look for people like the Campbells, who were successful in the pharmaceutical industry. There are a lot of well-educated, well-heeled, successful and highly motivated people in the Triangle and across the state. They care about the quality of schools and quality of life here. Often, they care about women’s reproductive rights and discrimination against gays. And a lot of them have never been involved in politics before.
 
Ask President Obama. He’s the most successful fundraiser of all time. He’s on track to raise and spend more than a billion dollars this time.
 
The truth is, there’s enough money for both sides to “buy elections.” Winners get to work and raise it. Losers whine to the media.
 

 

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30
Now Carter’s gone to meddling. So I feel compelled to depart from my preference to avoid writing about clients.
 
His October 24 blog, “The Vanishing Cuts,” takes aim at DHHS Secretary Lanier Cansler – again. His collateral targets include people who run and live in adult-care homes (my clients).
 
Here’s the other side of that story.
 
Carter says the state should be moving people out of adult-care homes (and nursing homes) and paying for them to get care in their own homes.
 
A noble goal. Unfortunately, thousands of these people don’t have homes. Or families who can take care of them. Some, in fact, have been neglected and abused by their families.
 
You can go to the Friends of Adult Care website to read about people who, if it wasn’t for adult-care homes, would end up on the streets, in emergency rooms or in jail.  
Adult-care homes provides 24/7/365 care for people – at a Medicaid rate of $57.60 a day. Try doing that in their homes.
 
Now let’s get back to our regular programming.

 

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29
The Hunt Alumni lost one of our friends last week. Cy Lynn died. Here’s the N&O obit.
 
Cy was public affairs director at DOT in Hunt I and II. He handled paid media in Hunt’s 1980 reelection campaign. He went on to work for the community colleges and then the Chamber of Commerce in his hometown of Valdese.
 
Cy was hilarious, hyperactive and a marathon talker. He worked at DOT with the notoriously voluble Secretary Tom Bradshaw. When the two of them were in a room together, there was barely enough oxygen left to breathe.
 
When Gwyn and I got married, Cy came equipped with an epic comic poem that left the wedding party howling and my in-laws wondering what the hell their daughter had gotten into. That afternoon, Cy and another long-gone friend, Gene Wang, helped me get into my wedding tux and tie.
 
Remembering him, I realize you can laugh and cry at the same time.
 
 

 

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28
The more things change…the more they stay the same.
 
The European Union has come up with a master-plan to cure the Greek debt crisis and avoid financial Armageddon.
 
The European Bankers are going to eat half (instead of all) of their bad Greek loans. Then the Euro-Union is going to set up a massive $600 billion fund to pay for the rest of the Greek bailout and rescue Italy, Spain, Portugal and Ireland as needed.
 
Only there’s one hitch.
 
France and Germany don’t want to contribute a penny to the fund. Instead, they say, non-European nations should foot the bill for the rest of the bailout.
 
Sound familiar?
 
 

 

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Posted in: Issues
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28
The stock market goes up 340 points. It may go up more in October than in any month in 25 years. It even looks like the economy is growing rather than going into another recession.
 
Great news, right?
 
No. The L.A. Times finds the rat turd in the Dow Jones Index sugar bowl: “…it also may further aggravate small investors who have cashed out of the market in droves in recent months, pushed away by wild swings that left many people frightened and disgusted.”
 
So I guess we should pull for a market collapse? Then all the people who pulled out will be happy?

 

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Posted in: General, Issues
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27
It’s a near-perfect metaphor: We’ve got Congress in debt up to its eyeballs and the President’s cutting the cost of government subsidized student loans.
 
It’s classic. And unstoppable.
 
Just before the election Obama’s going to make millions of new friends: He’s going to lower their student loan debts by increasing the government debts and there won’t be a politician in sight who’ll say a discouraging word.
 
Politically, the problem is all but unsolvable. Washington needs to cut spending. But a sure-fire way for a fellow to get re-elected is to put money in people’s pockets.
 

 

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27
A highlight of reading The New York Times on Tuesdays and Fridays is David Brooks’ columns. He’s intelligent, interesting and insightful.
 
But he’s all wrong (“The Fighter Fallacy”) when he says President Obama is all wrong to come out swinging against Republicans. He can’t win that way, Brooks says.
 
Yes, he can.
 
Americans love a fighter, so long as he fights for the right things. And against the right villains.
 
Right now, Obama gets to fight against the Republicans in Congress. He has his problems, but he’s more popular than they are. And they’ve punched him in the nose so many times he’ll look like a weakling if he doesn’t fight back.
 
Next year, he’ll get to fight with a Republican who is either totally unprincipled (Romney), totally incompetent (Perry) or totally nuts (Cain).
 
Obama’s problem is telling people what he’s fighting for. After giving a big speech to Congress and travelling across the country for six weeks talking about his American Jobs Act, a New York Times/CBS poll found that “more than half of the public say he lacks a clear plan for creating jobs.”
 
Obama is paying the price now for spending his first year focusing on health care reform. That may have been a noble cause, and it may turn out to be the greatest thing since cable sports. But the public didn’t understand his plan – or why he focused on that when the economy sucked. 
 
Now, finally, he has a jobs plan.  Time to fight for it.
 

 

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27
A Republican friend tells me that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is the GOP’s star of the future: the perfect 2012 running and/or perfect candidate for President in 2016.
 
So – to go with the Birther movement that questions whether President Obama is really from around here – Democrats need to launch a Boater movement to delve into questions about when Rubio’s parents came here from Cuba.
 
If you missed it, there has been a national media flap over the matter. The Washington Post started it, then Rubio replied.
 
Apparently, Rubio had said for years his parents came here after Castro took over in 1959. It turns out now they came here in 1956 – before the Castro takeover.
 
Boaters need to demand answers. Why the discrepancy in dates? Why the changing stories? Where is the long-form certificate proving when his parents came over?
 
Actually, I don’t think this is a big deal.  But if Barack Obama had misstated by three years the date when his father came here from Kenya, Fox News would be in a lather and the House would be issuing subpoenas.
 

 

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26
Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post opined that debates are “no way to pick a President.” I beg to differ.
 
Her opinion is rooted in a media misunderstanding of what voters look for in debates. She wrote: “Now we judge a candidate's worthiness for public office as much according to his stage performance as by his plan to balance the budget. Scorecards include hair, makeup, wardrobe and body language. In other words, the leader of the free world has to be someone we want to watch. Is he or she good teevee?”
 
She’s voicing a classic elite opinion: debates are superficial. And the media is often frustrated because it can’t figure out how to grade winners and losers in debates.
 
It’s very easy.
 
The winner of a debate is the most comfortable person on stage. Always.
 
From JFK in 1960 to Reagan in 1980 to Clinton always. This time, in the Republican debates, it’s usually Mitt Romney.
 
This piece from the New York Times explains why Romney is doing better this time than in 2008:
“This time, he has shed much of the operational and psychological baggage that weighed down, and ultimately doomed, his maiden campaign. Gone are the extensive debate rehearsals, the bickering consultants, the corporate dress code and the urge to explain everything. That may explain why, for all his ups and downs, Mr. Romney’s public presentation and debate appearances have been far more consistent this time.”
 
In other words, he’s more comfortable than anybody else on stage. Rick Perry is visibly uncomfortable. Herman Cain did well for a while, until he started taking heat. Michelle Bachman looks deranged. Rick Santorum tries too hard.
 
Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are comfortable, but they’re, well, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich.
 
By the way, how did Kennedy prepare for his debates with Nixon? He relaxed in the sun and freshened up his tan. He read through possible questions and answers on index cards – alone. And he took a nap.
 
There’s nothing superficial about this. Voters are looking for someone they trust, someone they sense has the temperament to handle the crises and challenges that will confront a President. We want a President who is calm, confident and comfortable in a tough situation. Debates help us see the candidates in just such a setting.

 

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