Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Abortion moving on stage in N.C. Senate race

It didn't take some Republican U.S. Senate candidates long to criticize Republican Gov. Pat McCrory's decision not to appeal a federal judge's decision throwing out a requirement that women seeking abortions be shown a narrated ultrasound just before having the procedure.

Thom Tillis and Mark Harris responded quickly, asking McCrory to reverse his decision and appeal. Other GOP Senate candidates agreed.

All this signals that abortion is likely to be an issue in the race all year, just as it promises to be in other states.

Last week a New York Times story called it an "unexpectedly animating issue" in elections across the country. Republicans are using it to rev up their base. Democrats think it will fire up women.

The judge's decision involved the so-called Women's Right to Know law passed in 2011 and passed again over then-Gov. Bev Perdue's veto. And Judge Catherine Eagle's ruling puts it smack on the agenda in 2014.

"There's no question the ultrasound provision is a critical part of that law," says Harris. "We know that it gives critical information to women. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to resist the best information a woman could receive before making such a major life decision.”

Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan will be happy to take up that fight.

Says her spokeswoman Sadie Weiner: "Every Republican candidate in this race has advocated to restrict women's access to care, and it's disappointing they want to spend more time on this out-of-touch, irresponsible effort rather than focusing on jobs and the economy like middle-class families need them to."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NAACP's Barber not apologizing for 'ventriloquist's dummy' remark

The quote ran near the end of a story on The State newspaper of Columbia about Rev. William Barber's weekend appearance in South Carolina:

“A ventriloquist can always find a good dummy,” Barber told The State. “The extreme right wing down here (in South Carolina) finds a black guy to be senator and claims he’s the first black senator since Reconstruction and then he goes to Washington, D.C., and articulates the agenda of the Tea Party.”

The comment, aimed at U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate's only African American Republican, generated national attention.

Scott told Fox News' Megyn Kelly Tuesday that he was the target of “philosophical bigotry.”

“What we’re hearing is baseless rhetoric about the same old things that have not worked so far," Scott said. “We’ve had a 50-year war led by the government on poverty, and it hasn’t taken people out...  In this country, conservatives, free market capitalism, produces greater success than the government can ever do.”

Barber's remark was picked up across the country. The N.C. GOP released samples of that reaction in a news release headlined, "America meets Rev. William Barber."

Barber made the comments in Columbia when he spoke against what he called the dangers of Republican "right-wing extremism" on issues such as voting, health care, environment and education. He defended his comment before an appearance Tuesday night in Charlotte.

"We believe leaders should not be echoes of the voice of extremism," he said. "The indignation should not be so much about the language. The indignation should be about the actions."

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Jesse Jackson to eulogize Franklin McCain

A half century ago the Rev. Jesse Jackson was a classmate of Franklin McCain at N.C. A&T University in Greensboro. On Friday, Jackson will be in Charlotte to remember McCain at his funeral.

McCain, one of the four students whose 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro lunch counter started a movement,  died last week at 73.

"Frank McCain was such a dear friend, a classmate and such a force for change in the America we now live in," Jackson told me today. "God assigned Frank and the other three to history. In so many ways Frank was a cut above the rest of us. He was smarter, more mature, more focused. He was a trailblazer."
Jackson will speak at McCain's 2 p.m. service at Charlotte's Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
On Thursday morning, McCain will be remembered at a memorial service on the A&T campus.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

GOP Senate hopefuls say 'no' on jobless vote

Six Republicans joined 54 Democratic U.S. senators Tuesday in clearing the way for a vote to extend federal unemployment benefits to 1.3 million Americans. The 60-37 procedural vote allows final consideration of the extension.

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, who has sparred with North Carolina Republican leaders over the issues this week, voted yes.

Sen. Richard Burr voted no. So would at least three of the five GOP hopefuls who hope to take on Hagan.

Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis, said only that the candidate would have voted against Tuesday's measure.

Mark Harris, a Charlotte pastor, issued a statement: "This is the latest example of the Washington DC establishment supporting policy that is forcing our Nation to pay bills on a credit card that is already maxed out," he said. "This extension of unemployment benefits unfortunately is not paid for and does not include anything to help put people back to work."

Bill Flynn, a Forsyth County broadcaster, said there's a better way to help the jobless.

"We need look no further than to the State of North Carolina to see how to effectively lower unemployment rates in the long term," he said. "Extending  unemployment benefits and increasing the already  burdensome deficits is not the answer. Compassion means rapidly building a better environment for jobs to grow. Specifically, lower taxes and less regulation ... "

Greg Brannon and Heather Grant could not be reached.

House Speaker John Boehner and other Republicans say they want Congress to come up with spending cuts to offset the $6.5 billion cost of extending benefits.

New RNC ads target Hagan

The Republican National Committee today becomes the latest group to blast Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan over the Affordable Care Act.

The RNC launches radio ads in North Carolina and other congressional battlegrounds today accusing Hagan and other Democratic lawmakers of assuring voters they could keep their current health plans under the law known as Obamacare.

"They lied," an announcer says in the ad.

In a statement, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said, "These Democrats repeated the lie that people could keep their healthcare plans under ObamaCare. Cancelled plans and increased premiums prove they cannot be trusted to keep their promises.”

The radio ads are airing in Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh and the Greensboro/Winston-Salem market in addition to the one in Grenville/Spartanburg South Carolina.

Similar ads are being run in the home states of seven other senators and four members of the House.

A GOP official declined to say how much the party is spending.