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Women focus of Senate battle over ISIS

New ad in Senate race focuses on Islamic State and women

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis turned to a Union County veteran for his latest attack on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and President Barack Obama’s foreign policy.

His new ad features Nancy Anderson, the former mayor of Weddington and a retired Air Force officer. She’s the wife of a former fighter pilot. One son is a Marine; a daughter is about to become one.

“I’ve been on active duty, a reservist and a military wife,” Anderson says in the ad. “Today, I have the toughest job of all – mother of a Marine. Going to war was hard. But not as hard as sending your kids go off to war.

“It makes me so mad to see how the president’s weakness has allowed the Islamic State to grow. And Sen. Hagan? She just goes right along with him.”

The ad is Tillis’ second invoking the group known as ISIS and suggesting Hagan has done little as a member of the Armed Services Committee to stop its rise.

A spokesman says Hagan, who chairs the Emerging Threats subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee, held three hearings that addressed ISIS and pressed administration officials to arm moderate Syrian rebels to prevent the rise of extremists.

The Hagan campaign’s response to the Tillis ad underscored how both sides are trying to appeal to women. It released a statement from Donna Cheek, whose husband served six deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Kay’s clear and decisive action on how to combat ISIS is one of the most important things for military families like mine,” she said. “Speaker Tillis doesn’t even think our service members and military families deserve to know his position, and it is upsetting that he will play politics with our fears without being straight about his positions.”

Tillis has said he’s made no decision on committing U.S. troops to what’s now an air campaign against ISIS. And he’s said the U.S. doesn’t know enough about who the “moderate” Syrian rebels are.

“I actually don’t know if we should or shouldn’t,” Tillis said last month. “I would have to know that these arms would not get in the hands of people who would want to take over the Middle East.” Jim Morrill

PolitiFact backs up Tillis claim

As news from the Middle East came to dominate headlines, Republican Thom Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign hammered Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan for missing meetings of the Armed Services Committee. Democrats defended Hagan. Now PolitiFact has weighed in.

The independent fact-checkers have looked at Tillis’ claims that Hagan missed 27 of 49 committee hearings over the past two years as the Islamic State grew into a formidable fighting force.

Hagan’s campaign downplayed the absences, citing scheduling conflicts. The Observer couldn’t confirm the absences, but reached a committee spokeswoman who said Hagan had “one of the best attendance records on the committee.”

Not really, according to PolitiFact.

It found that over two years Hagan attended 23 of 50 open hearings. Only six of the 26 senators on the committee attended fewer. “Tillis has a point,” PolitiFact concluded. It rated the charge “Mostly True.”

Asked about the discrepancy with what she had told the Observer, Tara Andringa, a spokeswoman for chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., responded in an email. She said Hagan has held 12 hearings of her Emerging Threats subcommittee in the last 18 months, “making her subcommittee one of the most active on the Armed Services Committee.

“She has been a leader on counter-terrorism issues, holding three subcommittee hearings on counter-terrorism this Congress where al Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor to ISIS, has been discussed.” Jim Morrill

Cowell high on investors’ list

N.C. Treasurer Janet Cowell is in good company.

She came in 18th on the latest Sovereign Wealth Fund’s Public Investors 100 list.

She’s behind public wealth managers from places such as Canada, China, Japan, Norway and the United Arab Emirates. Only four Americans – including the heads of state retirement systems in California, New York and Texas – rank higher.

Cowell, a Democrat, oversees North Carolina Retirement Systems, the state pension fund for teachers and other public employees. In recognizing Cowell, Sovereign pointed to the 15.88 percent return on a system with $90 billion in assets.

“This global recognition affirms the work of our investment team and the strategic efforts we continue to make to secure the pension fund,” Cowell said in a statement. Jim Morrill

Trying to rock the millennial vote

They’re not your typical ads.

Take the one showing the middle-aged man in a grocery store parking lot.

“Sometimes you just forget to vote,” he says earnestly. “But not me. I never forget, because I care about people. Like women. I love women. But they’ll never be as smart as men.

“I know they think they want equal pay, and they they want the same rights as men. But their minds are just being poisoned by feminism. It’s our responsibility to protect them from themselves. Especially when they’re menstruating.”

The ad is part of a series designed to capture the attention of young voters. Rock the Vote is broadcasting the ads in North Carolina and other states as part of a campaign called “Care Like Crazy.”

The ads, aimed at millennials – voters under 34 – are airing on broadcast and social media. The group is spending $250,000 to air the ads across five states.

“What we’re trying to do is reach young people where they are,” says Ashley Spillane, president of Rock the Vote. “All we care about is building the political power of young people.” Jim Morrill

North Carolina No. 1

The ads just keep on comin’.

“Three political ads every five minutes,” the Center for Public Integrity reported last week. “That’s what television viewers in North Carolina and Iowa endured last week – and those are just the ads targeting the states’ hyper-competitive U.S. Senate races.”

Analyzing data from the tracking service Kantar Media/CMAG, the center found that through Sept. 29, no Senate race in the country had seen as many ads as North Carolina, where Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan faces N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican.

If you’re counting at home, that’s 64,300 ads at a cost of $34.2 million. Jim Morrill

Karma for Pillowtex

David Perdue’s record as former CEO of Kannapolis’ Pillowtex has given critics more ammunition in Georgia’s U.S. Senate race.

The Republican businessman is running against Democrat Michelle Nunn.

Last week, Politico found Perdue’s 2005 deposition in a case brought by Pillowtex creditors after the collapse of the giant textile company.

Though he now touts himself a “job creator,” Perdue was asked in the deposition about his “experience with outsourcing,” according to Politico.

“Yeah, I spent most of my career doing that,” he replied. “(At) Kurt Salmon Associates, some of my experience there was helping footwear companies develop the ability to import shoes from Asia, specifically Taiwan, Korea, China, Indonesia, Malaysia,” he added, referring to a consulting company that that specialized in outsourcing manufacturing.

Perdue’s campaign claimed the comments were taken out of context.

Pillowtex closed in 2003 – after Perdue had left – with the loss of more than 7,600 jobs. Jim Morrill

No ‘war on women’ for her

With most polls showing Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan with a double-digit lead among women, Republican N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis is trying to peel away women’s votes.

That’s one reason he appeared Saturday with U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska, and why Fischer hammered away at what Democrats call the “war on women.”

“Contrary to what you hear from the Democrats about the Republicans’ ‘war on women,’ give me a break,” she told three dozen Tillis supporters at a Charlotte campaign office. “I am living proof that there is no war on women. I’m a United States senator from the state of Nebraska. I’m a Republican. And you know what? I’m a woman.” Jim Morrill


“Sen. Fisher – if you don’t mind me calling you Deb – I know some senators like titles.”

Thom Tillis to Sen. Deb Fisher, after being criticized in his first debate for calling his opponent “Kay.”