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Etheridge quickly organizing governor's campaign

Posted February 3, 2012

— Former 2nd District Congressman Bob Etheridge said Friday that he doesn't believe his age or political history will negatively influence voters when it comes to him becoming North Carolina governor.

Etheridge got in the race late Thursday – one week after the party nomination opened wide with Gov. Beverly Perdue's decision not to seek re-election. He said he intends to make education a critical part of his campaign platform. He's the third Democrat to get into the primary, joining Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and state Rep. Bill Faison of Orange County.

He dismissed words from presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Pat McCrory this week that the current and potential candidates are "retreads" from old Democratic politics. Several other Democrats are still looking at getting in, including 13th District Congressman Brad Miller, former State Treasurer Richard Moore and state Sen. Dan Blue of Wake County.

"I believe the issues that are critical to this state are about leadership," Etheridge said in a news conference outside state Democratic Party headquarters in Raleigh. "It isn't about slogans or tags. It's about providing leadership for the state in the very core areas of education that undergirds economic growth."

The seven-term congressman from Lillington previously served in the state House and eight years as state schools superintendent. He's 70 years old and would be among the state's oldest governors if he won in November. Age isn't an issue in this race, he said.

"The state needs that now. They need a steady hand, someone who really understands what will make a difference," he said, saying voters would get "a known quantity" with him.

"My life work has been about public education. This is a defining moment in the history of this state," he said.

Bob Etheridge Etheridge tries to focus on NC's future, not his past

Etheridge lost his U.S. House seat in 2010 to Republican Renee Ellmers by less than 1,500 votes. The campaign was marked by an online video showing Etheridge swatting at the camera, demanding that two men taping him identify themselves and grabbing one of them by the wrist and neck.

He immediately apologized for the incident and said Friday that he is trying to focus on future instead of the past.

'I can't do anything other than say I had a bad day," he said. "It was a setup and we know that, but I'm not going to go back and dwell with that.

"I accepted my responsibility for that part. I wish the other folks would do the same," he said. "You've got to move forward. We can't deal with the past. You've got to move forward now and deal with that because now it's about the future of North Carolina's children and its people."

Etheridge, whose parents didn't complete high school, said he's lived the American dream thanks to public education and is running for North Carolina governor to keep that investment going. He said Republicans in the legislature have tried to stop those investments from continuing by cutting education spending.

Bob Etheridge Web only: Etheridge discusses gubernatorial campaign

"I really believe the 21st century is going to belong to the educated," he said.

He didn't answer directly whether he supports Perdue's proposal to raise the sales tax by three-quarters of a penny to make up for the education reductions. Dalton has said he backs the idea. Faison has pushed a largely similar idea. Republicans legislative leaders are against it.

Etheridge said education cuts need to stop because, this fall, local school districts will run out of more than $240 million in federal money to bolster education jobs. The Republicans shouldn't have let expire a temporary extra penny on the sales tax last July, he said.

"You take care of the basic things, and that's the basic things for children," he said. "If you don't do the job you need to do today, you're going to be paying for it for years and years to come."

Dalton said last week he is opposed to changing the state constitution to add a provision to prohibit gay marriage. A referendum will be held the same day as the May 8 primary. Etheridge said Friday he believed voters would make the right decision but he didn't express what the right decision would be.

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  • jet2rdu Feb 7, 2012

    If Bob cannot retire comfortably at age 70 after earning both NC and Federal pensions, why would the NC voters and taxpayers trust him that he can competently lead a state with fiscal responsibility?

    He has not proved it at a Federal level when he was in Congress.

  • MadMaxx Feb 7, 2012

    This is someone, who cannot get a real job, either riding the backs of taxpayers in office or GIVEN a state created job. Come on Bob, give it up. You do not have a chance. Their isn't a train long enough to carry all of your baggage.

  • Karmageddon Feb 6, 2012

    Let it go, Bob. You're washed up.

  • redrubberball1 Feb 6, 2012

    "You've managed to convince yourself w/ rhetoric that its better to die or not be able to afford health care than get it. Bizarre."

    Your thinking is as bizarre to me as mine is to you. I didn't grow up in the entitlement age. I'm reminded of Patrick Henry's:

    Gentlemen may say, peace, peace. Is life so sweet or peace so dear as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? No, Almighty God forbid. As for me, give be liberty or give me death.

    Forgetting the financial cost for a moment, "universal health care" will be the real snare under which the federal govt. takes over our lives.

  • Plenty Coups Feb 6, 2012

    redrubberball-"The "universal healthcare" that you so admire is universally mediocre ... The seriously ill often die before they get care."

    The problem with your post is that you rely on talking points and rhetoric. Most of the countries that you criticize for having "mediocre" health care systems have better results. They live longer and have lower infant mortality rates. If people are "dying" waiting for care, how come the stats don't reflect that? Right now in the US, people have to make financial decisions before they seek care. Seriously ill people here must weigh whether or not its worth the cost before they seek treatment.

    "I'd rather be free in America (under what's left of our freedom) without medical coverage or access, than live in any of those countries."

    You've managed to convince yourself w/ rhetoric that its better to die or not be able to afford health care than get it. Bizarre.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_expectancy

  • redrubberball1 Feb 6, 2012

    "Well most European countries have had universal healthcare for more than 50 years so just when do you think the "truth" will be fully known? The US system is on the verge of collapse, do you really think that the majority of Americans when faced with being priced out of healthcare won't look at why this is not a major issue anyplace else in the Western World?"

    The "universal healthcare" that you so admire is universally mediocre when it comes to delivering services. The seriously ill often die before they get care. Care is often rationed especially for the old. The socialist states you admire are all collapsing under the weight of unsustainable debt. I'd rather be free in America (under what's left of our freedom) without medical coverage or access, than live in any of those countries. You make your own choices. I personally believe America is standing on the edge of financial disaster and "universal healthcare" will be the final blow.

  • haggis basher Feb 6, 2012

    "So you have no problem with the fact he responded to provocation with physical assault?"

    He was a fool to so respond but one should be careful accepting what is an editted version for a biased source. However Bob blew it, he made a fool of himself and should gracefully retire. The lesson is if you are going to get drunk at lunchtime have a minder to get you back to your office without being hounded by ambush interviewers.

  • haggis basher Feb 6, 2012

    "One wonders why you would move to a country that you describe as having a 3rd world healthcare system?"

    Because I'm well off, and as in any third world country, the well off have no problems with healthcare.

    " Your analysis, when the truth be fully known, will prove to be wildly inaccurate."

    Well most European countries have had universal healthcare for more than 50 years so just when do you think the "truth" will be fully known? The US system is on the verge of collapse, do you really think that the majority of Americans when faced with being priced out of healthcare won't look at why this is not a major issue anyplace else in the Western World?

  • haggis basher Feb 6, 2012

    "Oh, and which utopian system would that one be? Dream on, pal! Obama is going down and so is his Socialist dream of "transforming this country". And yes, he did say that. Go away, Liberals! Your time is over!"

    Germany springs to mind........sounder economy that that of the US and has universal healthcare, The UK and France both of whoms economies are much on a par with that of the US, both have universal healthcare.......are you say that the Germans, Brits and, gasp, the French are smarter than you are?

    as for our time being over, I doubt it......yours is the last gasp of the dark ages.

  • 23tony Feb 6, 2012

    "That's what's wrong with you conservatives - so stuck on what you believe is right, you ignore the truth. A republican interest group admitted to it - are you that ignorant? They told you they did it to provoke him."

    So you have no problem with the fact he responded to provocation with physical assault?

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