Under the Dome

Thom Tillis ventures into potentially risky territory


The Thom Tillis campaign for U.S. Senate ventures into potentially risky political territory this weekend.

On Saturday, Rev. Mark Harris, one of Tillis’ primary election opponents and a Baptist minister, is co-hosting a fundraiser for Tillis in the Lincoln County community of Iron Station, near Charlotte. Newly surfaced audio of sermons Harris delivered in 2013 and 2009 at the First Baptist Church of Charlotte may not sit well with some of the women voters Tillis is hoping to bring to his side.

Some of Harris’ remarks include:

• The Scripture gives men the title “head” and women “helper,” and what he would call a man would be “servant leader” and a woman “servant lover.”

• “Even basic things, like how to prepare a meal, how to sew on a button, how to keep a home, how to respond to a husband, just basic things – we’ve lost it.”

• Regarding the children of working mothers: “My fear is that 20, 40 and even 50 years from now daughters all over this nation will have the same wound, the same anger, and the same disconnect, and the desperate need to connect, because mom wasn’t there.”

Tillis is faced with a gender gap problem. The most recent Elon Poll showed Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan with a 19-point advantage among women voters. Asked about that in Wilmington on Tuesday, Tillis said it wasn’t necessary to recalibrate his campaign, and said he intended to keep the focus on what he calls Hagan’s broken promises.

Also Saturday, The High Point Enterprise reports Tillis is expected to campaign with Mark Walker, the Republican candidate for the retiring Rep. Howard Coble’s seat in the 6th Congressional District.

Walker received unwanted attention Thursday when a video emerged of remarks he made about Mexico at a tea party group in June.

In a discussion about securing the borders, he said the response to drug cartels sneaking people into the United States could be: “If we’ve got to go laser or blitz somebody with a couple of fighter jets for a little while to make our point, I don’t have a problem with that.”

The moderator replied, “I hope you wouldn’t have any qualms about starting up a war with Mexico.” To which Walker replied: “Well, we did it before, if we need to do it again, I don’t have a qualm about it.”

The Greensboro News-Record and The High Point Enterprise reported Friday that Walker and his campaign staff said the remarks were tongue-in-cheek. But the video has spread far and wide since The Daily Kos posted it.

Update: Democratic groups began spreading the word about the Harris’ sermons on Friday evening through social media, prompting a push-back from the other side. Of course there are those who fault Hagan for her associations with controversial figures and their widely reported comments.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has a record of inappropriate remarks, including such comments as calling those protesting President Barack Obama’s health-care proposals in 2009 “evil-mongers.” Or for having to apologize in 2010 for describing Obama, when he was a candidate for president, as a black candidate who could succeed partly because he is light-skinned and doesn’t speak in a “Negro dialect.” A committee allied with Reid has spent millions to help Hagan get re-elected.

Another lightning rod for the right is NAACP North Carolina chapter president the Rev. William Barber, and anyone connected to him is fair game. As The N&O reported earlier this year, Barber was roundly criticized for calling U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, an African-American Republican from South Carolina, a ventriloquist’s dummy.

Tillis campaigners were quick to point out that Hagan, in an interview published in The Indepdent Weekly on Friday, said Barber has done a good job promoting the Moral Mondays movement against the state legislature, which she supports.