Mac Whatley's blog

Bill Barnstorms Asheboro

Bill Clinton’s barnstorming tour of small-town North Carolina is finishing up its second round in the eastern part of the state as I write this; he was in four towns yesterday and did seven more today. But I was in the middle of last week’s traveling show, and I’ve been so busy catching up I’m finally making time to write before it’s all history. Actually it WAS, history, here in Asheboro, and the glow of it all is still burning pretty bright. But even now pundits are piling layer upon layer of speculation and analysis, and after next Tuesday it will all be academic, filed away in some history of the 2008 election. But all over North Carolina, generations of small town residents will remember when the circus came to town.

Bumped, this is a great diary. Thanks. - RP

President Clinton is coming to speak in Asheboro Tomorrow!

Bill Clinton is coming through Asheboro at 5:30 tomorrow (or whenever; there are two stops ahead of us). Directions are here

I'd post more but I'm caught in the tornado of presidential politics- advance men, secret service agents, political directors, venues, bands, bunting, the whole kielbasa. Yikes!

Jim Neal in Asheboro

Last Friday night Jim Neal and BlueNC blogger Sam Spencer came to Asheboro to meet some of our Randolph County voters. About 22 people came to the Coffee Xchange, kindly provided by good Dem G.P. Hanspal, and asked Jim questions for over an hour.

Michele Obama at Winston-Salem State

It has taken me almost a week to make the time to post about Michele Obama’s speech at Winston-Salem. I have new appreciation for the time and effort it takes to update a blog regularly! (And I apologize in advance for the photos being so big; I tried to get them to come through smaller, but I'm new at all this...)

When the Obama people called to offer me a special guest ticket to the speech, I took it without too much worry over seeming partial (Clintonistas: I’ll go see Bill anytime, too!) The last time I participated in the traveling show that is a national campaign was when I volunteered in the Carter press office as a college student at the 1976 Democratic National Convention. And things have changed a lot since then.
A lot of that involves how campaigns cultivate new voters. There were numerous places at the Gaines Center to register to vote, if you weren’t already. And if you were, there were lots of opportunities to help get those new voters OUT to vote. One was the “Faith Captain Table,” where religious leaders could organize their church. Another was “Barack Your Block,” a catchy name for grassroots organizing your neighborhood, street by street and block by block, to make sure the voters get in the booth. And the one that appealed most to me was “Barack The Early Vote,” described to the crowd by Merritt, the WSSU campus Obama chief. Their plan to for WSSU students to meet at noon on campus April 17th; then they will march en masse downtown to the local Board of Elections, where everyone will vote on the first day of early voting. That sounded like a really impressive thing: hundreds of students marching to vote early ought to galvanize a high turn-out. We’ll see.

"Moderating" the 6th District Debate

I don't know if I moderated or liberalized the debate in Asheboro tonight, but at least I can say I didn't 'conserve' it.

I bought a stopwatch at the mall and was at our new 2008 Randolph County Democratic Party HQ at 6:15. Our people already had the sound system set up, and the candidates all three arrived by 6:45 for a 7PM start. We 'drew straws' for the starting and ending statement order.

Debate Ground Rules

I've been worrying about controlling the chaos as moderator of the 6th District debate tomorrow night, so here are some groundrules I'm proposing after a night's research.

They're based on the usual "Presidential Debate" procedures established in 1988 when the League of Women Voters revived national political debating. No debate this year has really followed any standard format, mainly because they started out with large numbers of candidates which diminished through the process, so the time for responses has grown proportionately.

Any one is welcome to give me feed back here- these Ground Rules aren't carved in stone, and I haven't emailed them to the candidates or journalists yet (read it here first!) The debate will begin with each candidate having two (2) minutes to make a short opening statement, the order being determined in advance by draw.

Live Debate Coverage

At least one thing I saw from last night's Blue NC Democratic gubernatorial candidate 'debate' is that these innertube-type debates are really self-generating and self-replicating. It happens in real time, in black and white (or whatever the electronic equivalent is), and then traditional media types (tip o' the hat to Laura Leslie and Ryan Beckwith) come out of the lurkosphere to participate, elaborate and pontificate. Does that have a bigger impact than a "live" debate, even one where the questioners are newspaper reporters, but their employers don't deem the event sufficiently newsworthy for next-day coverage?

I guess that's the old 'if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest' conundrum.
But I've been personally interested since I'm the putative moderator at our 6th Congressional District Democratic Candidate Debate in Asheboro this Thursday night, and I've searched online for coverage of last week's comparable debate at Guilford College, and haven't found much.

6th District Congressional Candidates to Debate

The three candidates competing for the Democratic nomination in the Sixth District U.S. House race will debate at least twice in the next few weeks.

Teresa Sue Bratton of Greensboro, Johnny Carter of Summerfield and Jay Ovittore of Greensboro have all agreed to participate in debates to be held in Greensboro and Asheboro; a third meeting may also be scheduled. All will be open to the public at no charge.
The first round will take place on Tuesday, March 25, at 8 p.m. in Joseph M. Bryan Jr. Auditorium of the Frank Family Science Center at Guilford College.

The second debate will take place Thursday, April 3, at 7 p.m. at the Democratic Party Headquarters for the Randolph County Democratic Party, 125 South Church Street, Asheboro.

Mac Whatley, Chair of the Randolph County Democratic Party, will moderate.


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