Richmond County Daily Journal - Hunt: Election is Critical
By Suzi Carter
Richmond County welcomed former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt to a Kissell for Congress dinner and rally at the Rockingham Speedway on Tuesday. Larry Kissell is the Democratic congressional candidate for North Carolina's 8th district, challenging Republican incumbent Robin Hayes.
Hunt and Kissell shook hands with supporters and greeted old friends in the Speedway garages before the rally began. Hunt explained why he supports Kissell in his race to the House of Representatives.
"This is a county of hard working people, that's why having a congressman who supports raising minimum wage is important," Hunt said before the rally began. "That's why we need a congressman who doesn't want to privatize Social Security, who doesn't want to send industry overseas. And that's the biggest difference between Larry Kissell and Robin Hayes."
After supporters traveled through a line for a barbeque chicken dinner, former N.C. Sen. Richard Conder spoke to the crowd and asked for contributions to "help us get more competitive again."
Conder said there is a great need for honest men in Washington, who will fight the loss of jobs and rising gas prices. The crowd responded with enthusiasm as Conder derided the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), saying "next the Congress will bring us SHAFTA" after the loss of 200,000 jobs.
After a rousing introduction, Hunt got on stage and took some jabs at Republican campaign strategy.
"This is democracy and we are so blessed to live in this great county, but folks, we've got some real trouble in America," he said. "And this is not the time to be thinking about lipstick on a pig ... This is a serious time for America and we can't just sit around if we care about our country."
Hunt compared this election to Franklin Roosevelt's election in 1932 during the Great Depression. Roosevelt brought the change America needed and the country needs another change this year, according to Hunt.
"As bad as things are, we can change it," Hunt said. "(Roosevelt) didn't say it would be easy ... He knew we had to use our government to help our people ... This year, we need to not elect somebody, not re-elect somebody, who will go along with the crowd."
Hunt concluded by highlighting Kissell's background as a school teacher who doesn't owe anybody in Washington. Hunt called Kissell "one of the finest young men I have ever met," a man who will study the problems and figure out how to fix them, "for us."
"I believe in this man," Hunt said to enthusiastic applause as he challenged Kissell to "look out for our children" and their education and welcomed him to the podium.
Kissell stepped up to a standing ovation as he began speaking about his 93 year-old mother, his wife and the support they gave him when he decided to get involved. He said his calling came when his pastor reminded him that "if you want a miracle, you have to get out of the boat."
"All the issues that made me concerned are worse," Kissell said about his unsuccessful first campaign in 2006. "We are Americans. We don't pass our problems on to the next generation. We solve it."
Kissell said that privatizing Social Security is not an option and that Congress needs to get control of its spending before Social Security is gone.
"We need to tell Congress to keep its hands off of it," Kissell said.
Education was also a focal point for Kissell, as his background as a teacher informs his understanding of No Child Left Behind. Kissell said that the educational focus should not be on one test that will make or break a child's future schooling.
"We need to teach the whole child from preschool through high school," he said.
Kissell linked unemployment to the energy crisis, saying that he would help create "green-collar" jobs through new energy technologies to reduce unemployment and the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
"The people in this district are too good and we don't need a congressman who tells us why CAFTA is bad and then votes for it," he said.
Kissell also said that healthcare reform is a must and that competitive prescription drug plans are something he plans to introduce.
"Children, seniors, veterans ... We have a moral obligation to take care of these folks," he said.
Kissell said he accepts the challenges before him by quoting what John F. Kennedy said to people who doubted the space program, "We choose to go to the moon not because it is easy, but indeed, because it is hard."