Hagan live blog: Postmortem - II

Note: In fairness to Sen. Hagan, I will go into the archives and do a postmortem on Jim Neal's live blog.

Senator Hagan, how would you return to the people of North Carolina a strong advocate Senator who cares enough to fight for regular people when they appeal for help?

When candidates run for office, there is always so much emphasis – and rightly so – on the issues and specific policy questions. But the thing that is often forgotten is that ultimately, we are elected to serve the people who went out to the polls and cast their votes.

Constituent service has been a landmark of my time in Raleigh. I’m responsive, my staff is courteous and responsible, and importantly, you need not be a big donor to get my attention. I was introduced at the NC
Association of Educators event a few weeks ago when I accepted their endorsement, and they said that Elizabeth Dole promised, promised, promised them to be responsive and involved even AFTER the election…you
can guess what happened there. I hear that concern about Elizabeth Dole all the time.

Ms. Hagan handles this softball questions as expected. For the record, I have no doubt that Ms. Hagan would provide better constituent services to NC voters of BOTH parties than Dole.

I believe very strongly in the need for universal health care, and I believe that we need leaders in the U.S. Senate who won't just vote for real reform, but will be strong advocates for universal coverage.

Can I count on you to be that leader?

I will absolutely work toward the goals of universal coverage. First of all, we are going to have a Democratic President in November, and when we do, we’ll finally be able to address and get results on one of the biggest, if not THE biggest domestic policy issue for millions of Americans.

Good response, but again, short on specifics.

Since 2001, premiums for family health coverage have increased 78%, and now an estimated 47 million Americans are uninsured. Washington is broken.

Is there anyone who isn't aware that insurance rates have gone up? Pointing this out just so you can throw in the "Washington is broken" catchphrase is a tad condescending. This is the kind of answer born of political consultants and focus groups, the very things that "broke" Washington in the first place.

We need to change the way we deliver health care by standing up to special interests and negotiating lower drug prices and lower premiums. We need to focus on prevention, chronic disease management and implement cost-saving mechanisms such as electronic records.

I’m not going to sit here and make a declaration that we’ll have universal health care plan over night – we won’t. But if you send people like me to Washington, we’ll get there.

General answers, no specifics. Of course this is a VERY complex issue, and I expect she has not even thought out specific plans yet.

Most races have a number of debates between the candidates, for the voters, to help them decide who will best represent them. Will the voters be given debates in the U.S. Senate race?

I agree it’s important that voters get to understand where the candidates stand on a whole host of issues. I’ve appeared at joint forums across the state at least 4 times with the other candidates and we just had our first debate on Friday evening. I’ve operated, and will continue to operate, my campaign in an open and accessible manner. I always take questions from guests at my events, and my staff is always following-up with people who ask more questions. I don’t think it’s fair to run for office and just expect people to support you– I know we have to earn it.

Hmmm... I wouldn't describe the Hagan campaign as "open and accessible".

I have been to one event where she was double billed with Jim Neal and was told by the organizers that she would not appear with him at the same time. I was also told she would not permit her appearance to be taped in any way.

My emailed questions have been unanswered by her campaign, and she refused to be interviewed by "Yes" in Greensboro.

Now these are my experiences. Since I am probably now on a list of people to ignore (which doesn't help by the way), your mileage may vary.

My campaign has been approached by only two other organizations that have offered to host debates – WTVD and the Alliance of Black Elected Officials. My campaign is talking about logistics with both (we had actually asked WTVD if they would be interested in hosting their debate specifically focusing on issues of importance to the African American community before the Alliance reached out to us). I do want to debate again.

But the important thing is that the way I operate my campaign – open and accessible to ALL voters– will only continue. That’s why it was important to me to do this live blog, for example.

Very well, we'll see if these debates materialize and whether her campaign becomes "open and accessible to ALL voters".

Why did you reverse yourself on running for the U.S. Senate? Did party officials ask you to run because they did not believe an openly gay candidate could win against Dole?

I decided to get in this race when Elizabeth Dole voted against the SCHIP program. On a personal level, I couldn’t believe she’d leave kids without insurance and on a professional level, I knew we in the legislature would have to AGAIN pick up where Washington’s fallen short. North Carolina deserves someone who advocates for them first and foremost.

OK, I can accept that, but she does ignore the question about whether she was asked by the party powers to run because they didn't believe an openly gay candidate could win. It seems to me that if this was NOT discussed, here was an opportunity for her to kill this suspicion outright. Since she does not take this obvious step, the cloud of suspicion remains, and is somewhat strengthened.

And let me say this – a lot of people have misinterpreted my position on SCHIP, and a lot of people, quite frankly, have said I’m “Elizabeth Dole lite” about this.

If I were in Washington, we would not have had to choose between health insurance for kids and taxing our tobacco farmers. People seem to assume the bill had to be written that way, but it didn’t, so it is a false choice to ask whether I would have supported the bill that was voted on. I would have tried to find an alternative funding stream, I would have made noise and lobbied my colleagues. I believe I would have been effective, but if I were not, and the bill remained as it was, I would have, of course, voted to provide health insurance to our state’s neediest children.

Gee, if only the opium and marijuana farmers had such a dedicated advocate.

Again, Hagan answers a question not asked.

I notice there is no talk of "compromise" here. Every effort would be taken to protect the tobacco industry from taxes, and only if there were no other possible choice, would she vote for such a tax.

Apparently, tobacco taxes are not something she would "reach across the aisle" for, unless someone is holding children's health care hostage.

Of course, in such an situation, she would be allying herself with Republicans against her own party in her search for "an alternative funding stream" that spared the poor oppressed cigarette companies a tax.

Are you an "insider"?

The media's shorthand for this race is that you are the insider and Jim Neal is the change agent. Do you agree with this assessment? If not, what areas do you think the US Senate needs to push for more change in? You've had a lot of support from national Dems. Do you think Congress in Democratic hands is doing a good job over the last year?

4 years ago Barack Obama was just a state senator from Illinois, and he made it to the Senate by touting his record of accomplishments for working families in Illinois and a message of bringing change and accountability to Washington. That sounds a whole lot more like ME than Jim Neal.

Hagan obliquely answers this question by comparing herself to Obama. She then ignores the other parts of the question entirely.

1) What areas do you think the US Senate needs to push for more change in?

2) Do you think Congress in Democratic hands is doing a good job over the last year?

These are fair and relevant questions, and are ignored in pursuit of scoring a point off Neal.

I have to assume you understand the ramifications of the OLF fight that is being waged in NE NC.

As of right now, the Navy is in the process of concluding one NEPA study to try to convince North Carolinians to place an OLF in our state and is about to start a second NEPA study to do the same thing.

Many politicians have stated that they would not allow this to happen to any community were the local people and community do not wish it. I have to assume that is also your stand.

The Navy has not officially started this process yet already has two communities in our state as finalists. With almost every elected official in NE NC stating they would oppose the OLF, will you be the first elected representative (State Senator) and candidate (Senator) to tell the Navy before this ne NEPA process gets started that "we believe you when you have stated NAS Oceana does not require this OLF, therefore, I request that you remove Camden, Gates and any other region in my state where the local government and the community does not wish it from consideration from your upcoming NEPA study?"

Will you start a coalition within the GA to do the same?

Will you work with Senator Burr to drive this forward?

Will you encourage Governor Easley to tell the Navy that an OLF is not desired in NE NC?

The People of NC are looking for that quality in a leader. Someone who will take the reins and run with them.

When I’m asked about the outlying landing field, I agree with Gov. Easley, who likens it to a gold mine – Virginia gets the gold and North Carolina gets the shaft.

I am sure this kind of joke cracks them up in places that haven't had a laugh since the last time Dean Martin, Jack Benny, Foster Brooks, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Milton Berle got together to roast Red Buttons, but it kind of falls flat to people who actually listen to comedians who were born in the latter half of the last century.

Sorry to grouse, but you can't compare yourself to Barack Obama, then make the kind of "quip" that would certainly amuse Strom Thurmond, if it weren't for the fact that he's dead.

It doesn’t create any positive economic impact (jobs) here in North Carolina and actually has a negative impact on our environment – it just doesn’t make any sense to me. A few alternative options have been floated (no pun intended here!) regarding an aircraft carrier off our coast, which would have less impact on the tourism industry, the environment and the way of life for North Carolinians. As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Elizabeth Dole should have taken a leading role on this issue. When you send me to Washington, I will work with the Navy to find an alternate site that has community support and won't harm the environment.

After the joke, a relatively straight answer. No to OLF unless some community wants it, and it won't harm the environment.

As an Iraq vet, I speak to many fellow 21st Century vets of both Iraq and Afghanistan and to military families. Setting aside our policy toward both of these combat theaters for the moment, what will be your agenda as a United States Senator representing one of the strongest military states there is?

Military spouses are not getting the support they need to maintain their stability. The lack of child care, mental health counseling, and other deployment support leads to crumbling marriages and a generation of children who will not know their deployed parent (and may be acting out in school as a result).

We will also have long-term medical care for returning soldiers, especially those who do not live near a VA hospital. They must live off the local mental health and medical services which are ill-equipped to support them, never mind supporting them for the next 60 to 70 years of their lives.

What will be your REAL commitment to supporting the troops?

This is a very personal issue to me. I come from a military family – my husband is a Vietnam veteran, my father-in-law is affectionately called “The General” as he is a two-star retired General in the Marine Corps, my father served and currently, two of my nephews are in the military and have served overseas.

How can this war continue and how can we be building bridges and schools and roads in Iraq, while we allow our veterans to come home to places like Walter Reed? It’s disgusting and demoralizing and it’s got to change.

In North Carolina, we’ve bought land around bases to protect them from commercial encroachment and importantly, we made sure National Guardsmen got reimbursed for the travel and living expenses that Washington failed to deliver on time. You’re right, this is the most military-friendly state in the nation, and we’ve got to keep it that way. This includes increased funding and programs for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, fully funding the GI bill (my husband Chip went to law school on the GI bill), and I support expanding the options for college aid to our military veterans.

Hagan doesn't get to answering some of the questions until the very end of establishing her military bona fides. That's OK, and she does give some answers, but misses a few of the questions in the process.

Her answers seem sincere and again, my opinion is that she would serve military families far better than Elizabeth Dole, who likes them for photo ops and election year props, but has nothing to do with them the rest of the time.

OK, that's my take on Hagan's answers. I will go and look at Neal's answers this weekend.

In the future, I would like to see the questions asked one at a time, waiting for the answer before presenting another one. This would avoid the possibility of skipping pointed or inconvenient questions.



different standards at different times

I just want to recall that when Jim Neal came here to live blog, he was still introducing himself to the community. All we knew of him, as I remember, is that James had met him and told us some about him. Then he came here and it was a chance to feel out his views in a more general way. An outsider candidate is always going to be doing this, since they do not have positions to explain in terms of a voting record.

Even if Kay Hagan had come by a few months ago, right when she announced, I think it would have had a similar tone, of her introducing herself to many of us outside her district.

This is a different time. It is a month out from the primary, public statements are out there, and it is time for harder questions. The difference for me is that immediately after Jim Neal was live blogging here, he was at James' home speaking to people, spending hours answering questions, and that kind of immediate followup gave me the information I needed to know I wanted to support him. Kay Hagan chose to limit her public engagements at that time, to limit questions and appearances. She is getting around now a lot more, which is always good for voters, but by now, many of us need more concrete answers.

To say, for example, that she is 'close to where John Edwards is' on gay marriage is just cheap talking in code, to assuage those of us who have positive feelings toward John Edwards to transfer them to her. That isn't an answer, it is a strategy. To act surprised by questions on FISA, which anyone with any attention at all knows is a serious matter in the progressive blogosphere, is just a tactic to disarm, and not helpful.

She did come here, and answer a lot in her own way. I want candidates to do that, but they must not think that a charming performance is all it takes to get votes from people who are very passionate about the issues.

It is tricky business, live blogging in a campaign, and I am learning a lot about what is effective and what is not. At the Yearly Kos convention we had most of the Democratic Presidential candidates, and it made a difference HOW they answered questions.

Well, we bloggers are one tough crowd, I suppose.

We're not for polite company it seems

We ask the questions the press is too housebroken to ask.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

She missed the point completely

I am looking for a leader. She says she is opposed to it, but will not act. Will she hold the same attitude toward any other issue we the people will bring to her? That is what liddy does. Speaks softly and tap dances.

Leaders lead. To many representatives fail to understand what that word really means. From Merriam-Webster online dictionary

1: one that represents another or others: as a (1): one that represents a constituency as a member of a legislative body (2): a member of the house of representatives of the United States Congress or a state legislature b: one that represents another as agent, deputy, substitute, or delegate usually being invested with the authority of the principal c: one that represents a business organization d: one that represents another as successor or heir

and the act of being a representative

1: serving to represent2 a: standing or acting for another especially through delegated authority b: of, based on, or constituting a government in which the many are represented by persons chosen from among them usually by election

By looking at these definitions, what politicians are representing us? The sad answer is none.

How many will blow off serious questions with jokes or other peoples comments? This should be a no brainer for someone who is representing the people. Many issues fall into this, not just the OLF.

Our politicians will take the easy road and go for the easy mode. But the tough questions and tough issues, forgetaboutit. Aint gonna happen on my watch, I want to get reelected. So I will promise to maybe look into that next time it is brought up. You keep reminding me. When the process is over, I will be there for you. O, can you contribute to my campaign?

And folks wonder why so few people actually get involved with politics or politicians. They all say the same thing, hot air wind bags who can only get reelected if they bring in enough pork.

Easley is not a leader
Burr is not a leader
Dole is not a leader
Butterfield is not a leader
Perdue is not a leader
W. Jones is not a leader

Where are the leaders of North Carolina? These guys are stumbling blocks for the grass roots leaders to have to hurdle. All these people have is the money to stay were they are.

My first encounted with Hagan

I told her I was looking for a leader, not a politician.

You are right. Leaders are rare.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.

Liberalism as a badge of honor!
No apologies, no excuses.


Dare I say this? You've become a leader on this issue. I don't think anyone knows more about it, or has stronger feelings. I might not always agree with your take on other issues, but on this one, you've got it dead on. You are the leader on this one, you and the OLF grannies.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi
Pointing at Naked Emperors