First, the Charlotte Observer's coverage of Kerry's Friday visit in the Queen City:
North Carolina hasn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976.
More than 700 people attended (according to the Observer ... the Raleigh N&O yesterday reported 300 -- quite a discrepancy from our objective friends in the press!)
Kerry said, "Let me talk today to North Carolina, and through North Carolina, let me talk to people all through the South as some people try to separate parts of our country. Some people want America to be blue states and red states. I don't. I want us to be one America, red, white and blue."
Aiming for the unaffiliated voter, Kerry said, "If you're a conservative or an independent or a Republican ... and your mind is open, think about this. There's nothing conservative about running up deficits as far as the eye can see. There's nothing conservative about mounting debt on our children. And John Edwards and I want to restore what we did in the 1990s .... We're going to put pay-as-you-go back in place and cut the deficit in half."
Kerry cited the 162,000 manufacturing jobs lost in the state since Bush took office. Unfortunately, he spoke on the jobs issue on the very day that new figures came out showing North Carolina's jobless rate at 5 percent, the lowest in months.
But the biggest standing ovation came on this line: "Let me make one thing clear," he said. "I defended our country as a young man and I will as president of the United States." People are pissed at the "Swift Boat Veterans" crap, evidently. And well they should be.
Mike Easley didn't attend, natch. Neither did Erskine Bowles. But ex-governor Jim Hunt did, to introduce Kerry and because he knows -- bottomline -- that everything's still about him: "Some folks say Democrats can't win in North Carolina," Hunt said. "Well, I won in North Carolina five times. [Governor] Mike Easley won in North Carolina. And John Kerry and John Edwards are going to win in North Carolina in November."
In other news of the day, and just two days after Kerry's visit, John Edwards will also be in Charlotte on Sunday to attend church at University Park Baptist Church, an African American congregation on Beatties Ford Road.
Finally, yesterday the North Carolina Democratic Party filed an official complaint with the state board of elections over a TV ad airing in support of Republican gubernatorial candidate Patrick Ballantine, "saying the ad uses illegal contributions to promote Democratic Gov. Mike Easley's challenger. The complaint ... argues the ad by the Washington-based Republican Governors Association amounts to an in-kind contribution to Ballantine's campaign, a contribution Easley's campaign has said is worth $300,000. Any contribution of more than $4,000 would violate state law."
"Meanwhile, Rick Thames, editor of The Charlotte Observer, said he contacted the Republican group Friday and asked that it pull or revise the ad because it gives viewers the false impression that the newspaper has endorsed Ballantine."