Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx, a co-chairman of the Democratic convention’s host committee, said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt,” airing this weekend, that he expects President Barack Obama to carry North Carolina in November. Obama is set to accept the Democratic nomination for a second term in Charlotte on Sept. 6.
(This is not a legal transcript. Bloomberg LP cannot guarantee its accuracy.)
AL HUNT: We begin the show with the man of the hour, the mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, the host of the Democratic National Convention next week, Anthony Foxx. Mr. Mayor, thank you so much for being with us.
ANTHONY FOXX: Thank you, Al. Glad to be with you.
HUNT: We’ll come to Charlotte in just a moment. First, your impressions of the just-completed Republican convention.
FOXX: It was an interesting convention. All of them are about narratives, and this convention was about the narrative finally of the Republicans saying yes to something affirmative, which is good to hear from them. But I don’t think they were very good about specifics, and I’m looking to hearing more about what they would actually do over the next couple of months.
HUNT: How about the faces and voices they offered? More diversity. Latinos like Marco Rubio, Susana Martinez, African-Americans like Condi Rice and Artur Davis. Is this party diversifying more, no longer just a white guy’s party?
FOXX: Well, I did notice a very distinct difference between what was happening on the platform and the audience itself. I do think the Republicans recognize that there is a need to reflect diversity in what they’re projecting to the country, but I do think the Democratic convention is going to show you what diversity really is.
HUNT: I was going to say, contrast Charlotte to Tampa.
FOXX: Well, Charlotte’s going to be about casting the vision of the president. And 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. And the president’s been working on that for the last four years.
HUNT: What do you want to hear from the president in Bank of America Stadium next week? What does he need to do besides saying Mitt Romney’s not a day at the beach?
FOXX: Well, I want him to talk about what he’s done because I think there’s still some misinformation that’s being put out there about his record. I also want to hear a little more about what he is going to do with another four years. And again, I believe it’s going to be a very, very effective message because I’ve heard pieces of it along the way. I’ve heard about a balanced approach to deficit reduction. I’ve heard about working to bring green-collar jobs into places just like Charlotte where we’re an emerging energy capital.
HUNT: You criticized the Republicans for lack of specificity. Do you expect to hear specificity from Barack Obama?
FOXX: His plans are pretty specific, from -
HUNT: Are we going to get new ones? Are we going to get new (inaudible) -
FOXX: I think he’s going to talk on a high level about the plans that are already out there that are very high level. He doesn’t purport to have a 56-point plan like Romney does. But if you look at the president’s record and you look at the plans he’s put forward like the American JOBS Act and others, he has very detailed plans -
HUNT: But nothing new? Nothing new next -
FOXX: Who knows? The White House can come up with something new, but I think what he’s been working on is the right prescription for the country, and I think the country needs to hear him talking about it in an unedited form.
HUNT: Can you assure us with all your power there won’t be rain in that open football stadium next Thursday night?
FOXX: I’ve done everything. I’ve done sun dances, everything I can imagine to make sure we don’t have rain.
HUNT: North Carolina is of course the purplest of the purple states. Obama carried it by 14,000 votes last time. But you look at it today, unemployment 9.6 percent. I think it’s the fourth highest in the country. There are reports of people - people who were enthusiastic souring on Barack Obama. The Tar Heel State looks like it’s headed red this time.
FOXX: I disagree.
HUNT: You do?
FOXX: I look at the state. People in this state have had to make many transitions over the - over the history. We’ve had to move from textiles into technology, health care, finance, and some of the areas like energy that we’re emerging into right now. 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.
And that’s what President Obama has done. He has brought high-speed rail into North Carolina. He’s helping us with our infrastructure investments right here in Charlotte in transit. He’s worked to support veterans. And we have a high group - high number of veterans across the state of North Carolina. He’s done some great work, and I think that’ll get reflected.
HUNT: And you flatly predict he’s going to carry North Carolina?
FOXX: I do.
HUNT: You do?
HUNT: Let me ask you about one Republican ad. There have been of course back and forths on both sides’ ads, but one has charged that Barack Obama is trying to change the work requirements of the welfare bill. And the top Republicans have even said that he’s trying to do this to appeal to his “political base.” The charge most analysts say is false about - about work, but do you think the intent is to pander to racial animosities?
FOXX: No. As a matter of act, President Clinton has spoken very, very concretely about this issue. In some states they’ve requested these types of waivers in the past, and even under the Bush administration -
HUNT: I guess I was asking do you think the Republicans are trying to appeal to racial animosities by - by - by raising this issue and saying it’s about the president’s political base?
FOXX: I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt, although some wouldn’t. I think that we’ve got to keep this campaign on the high road. And the president’s going to do a good job of giving the country an affirmative message. I think the problem we have in the country right now is that so much of the political rhetoric is about what people are against. And the president is for things, and that’s what we need to keep the focus on.
HUNT: Let’s talk a little bit about Charlotte. It was known as a financial hub. There was the meltdown of the financial community. Where has that left Charlotte?
FOXX: Well, let me tell you. It has not been easy. We lost 27,000 jobs just in the city of Charlotte two years prior to my taking office. And we’ve gone back into net positive job growth. We have more financial services firms coming into this area, smaller ones that are snapping up some of the talent in that particular industry. But we’ve also worked to diversify our economy.
We are working to build a world energy capital here. Duke Energy and Progress Energy have just merged, and that’s creating the largest energy utility in the country, the second largest in the world. And the supply chain around that will find its way here, and that’s going to create jobs. We are expanding in medicine and many other areas. So I feel like Charlotte’s on the - on the uptick.
HUNT: And the financial jobs are coming back?
FOXX: Well, they’re coming back in different forms.
HUNT: Not as high paying?
FOXX: Well, not as high paying, but you also start to see smaller firms come in that wouldn’t have come in when we had the two big banks.
HUNT: But Mr. Mayor, for all the vibrancy that one senses in Charlotte, you have also an unemployment rate here I think of over 9 percent. One in six citizens are living below poverty. That’s pretty tough.
FOXX: Well, of course the great recession was an enormous challenge for all of us, and that’s why this election is so important. That’s why I’m working to help the president get re-elected because he’s the president that’s taken us from losing 750,000 jobs a month into positive job growth over the last 29 months. That’s the kind of leadership we need.
HUNT: You are the chairman of the host committee, and you have always - I really mean this - you’ve skillfully avoided acknowledging any of the financial shortfalls that this convention may face. We’re only days away now. How short are you?
FOXX: We are going to have a great convention in this city. And I’m excited about -
HUNT: Are you going to raise - are you going to raise what you want to raise?
FOXX: We are going to have a great convention in this city. We can’t have it if we don’t have the resources. So the fact that we’re having it, we’ll have a great convention.
HUNT: Well your co-chair, Jim Rogers, the head of Duke Energy, has had his own internal issues, his focusing on the company. He’s your co-chair, so does that mean he’s been able to pay less attention to it over the last month or so?
FOXX: Jim has been enormous for this convention. He has worked tirelessly to help us bring the convention to the city and to make it successful. And he’s been a great partner, and still is.
HUNT: So you are confident there’s not going to have to be - there won’t be any cutbacks or anything else next week that -
FOXX: I feel like you’re going to have a great - great week.
HUNT: Tell me this, Mr. Mayor. What is it that we - give me one surprise that we might see. Just one. Just give us a little bit of a hint of something that we might not ordinarily think about that may happen in Charlotte over the next seven days.
FOXX: Well, gosh. I think for those who are - 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. We haven’t hosted a convention in the Carolinas since 1860. That was in Charleston, South Carolina. So we’re pretty excited.
HUNT: That was a somewhat different convention.
FOXX: Somewhat different convention. I don’t think I was invited. But I - I think there’s a lot of pent-up energy for this kind of activity in our state, and I think you’re going to be overwhelmed by the - by the friendly hospitality you’ll get when you’re here.
HUNT: And what are you looking for Bill Clinton on Wednesday night?
FOXX: Well, he’s a great narrator. And I think he will give us a narrative of painting the contrast in this election and will provide a framework for the public to understand the big choices we face and why President Obama should be re-elected.
HUNT: And what did you think, by the way, of the choice of Paul Ryan?
FOXX: Well, I think it was an interesting choice. It certainly wasn’t a choice designed to move towards the middle. It really puts the campaigns really at odds and provides quite a contrast. So it was an interesting choice in that regard.
HUNT: Well listen, we are delighted to be in Charlotte, Mr. Mayor. Thank you so much for being the host. We’ll look forward to seeing you all week.
FOXX: I look forward to it.
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