Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx predicted that President Barack Obama, who is set to accept the Democratic nomination for a second term in the city on Sept. 6, will carry North Carolina after narrowly winning the state in 2008.
“We understand this is a transitional period for our country, and we also want leadership that’s looking not just for the next year or the sound bite, but the leadership that’s looking over the next 20 years,” Foxx, a co-chairman of the convention’s host committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend.
Obama carried North Carolina by about 14,000 votes in 2008. The state’s unemployment rate was 9.6 percent in July, higher than the national rate of 8.3 percent and the fourth worst among the states, according to federal data.
Foxx, 41, who was elected mayor in 2009, said Obama has brought high-speed rail into North Carolina, is helping with investment in Charlotte transit and has worked to support veterans.
“We have a high group -- high number of veterans across the state of North Carolina,” Foxx said. “He’s done some great work, and I think that’ll get reflected.”
Foxx said he doesn’t think Republicans “were very good about specifics” during their convention in Tampa, and that he wants to hear “more about what they would actually do” between now and the November election.
“Charlotte’s going to be about casting the vision of the president,” Foxx said. “Although thematically last week you heard a lot of the Republicans talking about confronting the big challenges facing the country and -- and moving the country forward, next week you’re going to hear about what it takes to really get that done.”
Foxx said the Republicans tried to project diversity during their convention, with speakers who included U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“I do think the Republicans recognize that there is a need to reflect diversity in what they’re projecting to the country,” Foxx said. “But I do think the Democratic convention is going to show you what diversity really is.”
While the Charlotte host committee has struggled to raise money, Foxx said the convention will be fine.
“We can’t have it if we don’t have the resources,” Foxx said when asked whether he will raise the needed funds. “So the fact that we’re having it, we’ll have a great convention.”
Jim Rogers, chairman and chief executive of Duke Energy Corp. (DUK:US), is the committee co-chairman with Foxx. Rogers “has worked tirelessly to help us bring the convention to the city and to make it successful,” Foxx said.
Even so, Rogers has had to focus on his Charlotte-based company, which faces a divided board, alienated regulators and demoralized employees as state officials investigate management upheaval following its $17.8 billion takeover of Progress Energy Inc.
The recession was “an enormous challenge for all of us,” Foxx said. Unemployment in the Charlotte area was 10 percent in July, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The mayor said the city lost 27,000 jobs two years before he took office and now has positive net job growth. There are more financial-services firms coming into the area, and the city is trying to diversify its economy into health care, technology and other areas, Foxx said.
“So I feel like Charlotte’s on the -- on the uptick,” he said.
“For those who are visiting the city, I think they’re going to be surprised by how modern the city is, how enthusiastic people are,” Foxx said. “We haven’t hosted a convention in the Carolinas since 1860. That was in Charleston, South Carolina. So we’re pretty excited.”
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