The presidential campaign focused on women in North Carolina on Tuesday, with the two sides arguing that their candidate was best suited to help women.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Washington state, said two of three new businesses are started by women and that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney best understood how to get the economy back on track.
“We have had the longest period of high unemployment since the Great Depression,” Rodgers said at a news conference with Rep. Renee Ellmers of Dunn. “Fifty percent of our college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed.”
Carrie Peele, founder of blue Diamond Limousine of Raleigh, said rising gas prices under the Obama administration were “killing our industry.”
Outside the news conference at GOP headquarters in Raleigh, about 10 pickets marched holding signs and chanted slogans saying that Democrats stand for women’s equality.
Later, Rodgers attended a fundraiser for Ellmers at Seaboard 18, a restaurant in downtown Raleigh.
Before the Republican event, Democrats held a dueling news conference at The Cupcake Shoppe on Hillsborough Street, in which they criticized Republican efforts to block legislation that would help women such as the Paycheck Fairness Act.
“Not one Republican U.S. Senator voted for it,” said state Treasurer Janet Cowell. “It is important that all women, all North Carolinians have the same opportunities to be financially stable, support their families and plan for a secure future.”
C.J. Scarlet, CEO of Roving Coach International of Clayton, said Romney failed to support the paycheck act that would have helped women.
But Rodgers, when asked about it later, said the bill would have mainly helped trial lawyers. She said she favored income equality for women, but that the paycheck bill was not the right approach.
Romney takes narrow lead
Mitt Romney has taken a narrow lead over President Barack Obama in North Carolina, according to a new survey.
Romney leads Obama by a 48-46 margin, within the margin of error, according a new survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democrat-leaning firm based in Raleigh.
It is the first time the firm has found Romney ahead in the state since October. The poll found that Romney has gained 7 points on Obama since April, mainly by picking up support among independents.
Obama had a 51-38 percent lead among independents in April, but since then Romney has taken a 42-41 percent lead.
The spin: “North Carolina remains one of the most closely contested swing states in the country,” said Dean Debnam, president of the polling firm. “But there has been a modest shift toward Mitt Romney since he wrapped up the nomination.”
The survey of 810 likely voters was taken June 7-10 and had a margin of error of 3.4 percent.
The poll comes as the Obama e-election campaign has started airing a new TV ad that criticizes Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts. The ad says that when Romney was governor, Massachusetts was No. 1 in debt, fell to 47th in job creation, and had one of the worst economic records in the country.
The ad is airing in North Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
Gun bill not bulletproof
Although the guns-in-restaurants bill that has been languishing in a Senate committee for more than a year showed new signs of life last week, it might not clear the General Assembly this session.
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said Tuesday he supports the bill but wants to evaluate how similar laws have fared in other states. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mark Hilton, a Republican from Catawba County, says 44 states have similar bills and there have been no problems.
The bill would allow people with permits to carry concealed weapons to bring their firearms into establishments that serve alcohol and food, which is illegal now. Restaurant owners would be able to prohibit weapons if they wanted.
The state’s restaurant and sheriffs associations are neutral on the bill.
“We’re trying to be responsible about how to handle this kind of legislation,” Berger said. “I’d like to see it move forward. Whether we can do it in the short session or not, I don’t know. It may be a long-session issue.”
Berger noted the General Assembly passed several gun-rights laws last year. “I support the rights of responsible gun owners, particularly those who have gone through the process of obtaining concealed-carry permits to exercise their Second Amendment rights. I think the bill is a reasonable step in allowing them to exercise those Second Amendment rights.”
But Hilton is skeptical. After the bill cleared a Senate judiciary committee last week, it was referred to a finance committee instead of going directly to the Senate floor for a vote. Hilton said Tuesday he was concerned that was the kiss of death for the bill, as there was no apparent reason the finance committee should take it up.
Staff writers Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis
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