Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spratt, Ryan: Mutual regard has limits

Toward the end of the last meeting of the Bowles-Simpson deficit commission in December 2010, Republican Rep. Paul Ryan asked for the floor.

"I think this is the last time I'll be sitting at a table with my friend, John Spratt," he announced. "And you're a great guy, John, and it's been a real privilege to serve in Congress with you. We haven't agreed on everything but you have my respect, and I just want to say thank you for what you've done for our country."

Spratt, a Democrat, represented South Carolina's 5th District for 28 years and chaired the House Budget Committee before losing re-election in 2010. He was replaced on the budget panel by Ryan, who had been ranking minority member.

Spratt calls the Wisconsin congressman "bright, energetic and affable."

"I would regard him as a friend (but) one I disagree with vigorusly," Spratt says. "I was surprised to see (Mitt) Romney pick him because he brings not just Paul Ryan, who is personally attractive, but all his ideology on board."

Spratt was a major player in the negotiations that led to the 1997 balanced budget amendment, the first in generations and still the last. He worked with then budget chairman John Kasich, an Ohio Republican. He says Kasich did something Ryan would not -- compromise.

"He wants to do it his way," Spratt said of Ryan. "He doesn't want anything that can be construed as additional taxes or revenues in the package."

But Spratt, who had a reputation as a moderate, says Ryan's selection means a debate over substance.

"That will be the thing you hear about for the next two months," he says. "They've certainly brought front and center the key fiscal issues of our time: What would you do with Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid....

"In the final analysis, the biggest concern is whether Ryan can make the bipartisan moves necessary to put the budget on an even keel. In this respect his vote against Simpson-Bowles is not encouraging, it certainly does not cast him in the role of a bridge builder."

Monday, August 13, 2012

Paul Ryan surprises Sunday morning worshipers at St. Gabe's

Greeting early morning worshippers at St. Gabriel's Catholic Chuch Sunday, Rev. Andre Mangango noticed the strangers with dark glasses and ear phones.

Then he realized the reason they were there: A Secret Service contingent escorting Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's newly named running mate.

Ryan went to the south Charlotte church before he and Romney headed off by bus for rallies in Mooresville and High Point.

In a blog post this afternoon, diosesan spokesman David Hains quoted Mangango:

"He walked up to me and said, 'I am Representative Paul Ryan and this is my son.' I welcomed him to the church, congratulated him on being chosen and told him that we would be praying for him."

Ryan is the first Catholic on GOP ticket since William Miller in 1964. According to the National Journal, his selection also marks the first time that a presidential ticket will not include at least one Protestant. With Democratic Vice President Joe Biden, it also guarantees the first vice presidential debate between two Catholics.

St. Gabe's was still buzzing about the appearance at the 10:45 mass. Parishioner Simon Tsai was in the congregation when the priest anounced that the early service had a surprise visitor.

"The whole parish just applauded sponstaneously," Tsai recalled. "You can tell the enthusiasm.”

Tsai, a businessman, was impressed himself.

"It surprises me that he actually went to mass, especially when it's not a photo op," he said. "It's not just for show.”

Monday, August 06, 2012

Mitt Romney stopping in Mooresville Sunday

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney will begin a day-long bus tour of North Carolina Sunday in Mooresville.

The candidate is expected to make other stops in the Piedmont Sunday though no details were available.

It will be the first of two Romney visits to the Charlotte area next week. He's scheduled to appear at a fundraiser Wednesday at Charlotte's Duke Mansion.

Friday, August 03, 2012

GOP chairman calls in cavalry for NC

Who says North Carolina isn't a battleground state?

Republican national Chairman Reince Priebus will appear at GOP headquarters in Cornelius Saturday to announce a coordinated effort in North Carolina with party officials from Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia.

The effort is "sure to go a long way toward turning the state red in November," Priebus said in a statement.

The occasion is part of what Republicans are calling their second "Super Saturday," a sort of dress-rehearsal for this fall's get-out-the-vote efforts.

RNC spokeswoman Rachel Adams said hundreds of volunteers across the state, operating from 20 GOP "Victory" offices, will reach thousands of voters through direct visits and phone calls.

The Obama campaign says it has more than 30 offices in North Carolina.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Man who seconded Barack Obama's 2008 nomination stumps in NC for Mitt Romney

When Artur Davis stumped for Democrat Larry Kissell in Charlotte in 2006, he was a rising Democratic star. The Alabama congressman was vice chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. An African American with a law degree from Harvard, he was an up-and-comer.

In 2008, he was the first congressman outside Illinois to publicly back then-Sen. Barack Obama, who would become a confidant. He went on to second the nomination of his fellow Harvard law graduate at the Democratic convention in Denver.

So how did the 44-year-old Davis come to campaign in North Carolina Thursday for Republican Mitt Romney?

After losing a 2010 bid for governor of Alabama, Davis moved to suburban Washington to practice law. Last May, he announced he was switching parties.

"I made a decision that on every single issue we’re debating in the country right now, what Republicans were saying made more sense to me than what Democrats were saying," he said by phone during a swing through eastern North Carolina.

"I saw a Democratic solution that always amounted to 'Let's take more money from people that are successful and grow the footprint of government... That became the two-pronged, all-purpose solution to every economic problem."

When running for governor in 2010, Davis was the only member of the Congressional Black Caucus to vote against President Obama's health care bill. He joined 33 other Democrats, including Kissell.

Coincidently Thursday, the N.C. Democratic Party launched a new anti-Romney web site: