FREMONT, N.C. — U.S. Senate candidate Erskine Bowles told a crowd of mostly tobacco farmers this weekend that a buyout can be accomplished.
Bowles committed to the farmers that if a buyout does not happen this year, it would be one of his top priorities in the Senate.
"It is long overdue," he said.
Bowles told the crowd of more than 200 people at a farm near Fremont that the tobacco buyout would pump $6 billion into North Carolina's economy.
Bowles was joined in his support for a buyout by Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC).
"Thousands of North Carolina farm families are hanging on a hope and a prayer for a tobacco buyout to give them an honest chance for survival," Etheridge said.
Bowles is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the Senate seat being vacated by John Edwards.
President George W. Bush said earlier this month that he did not think the federal tobacco price support program, which has been in place since the 1930s, needs to be changed.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Richard Burr, a five-term congressman and close ally of the Bush administration, has been on the defensive since those remarks. Burr has said the president needed additional "education" on the importance of the issue.
Burr's campaign has responded to the attacks by noting that Bowles was chief of staff under President Clinton, whose administration tried to regulate tobacco and later sued cigarette makers.