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Election: Congress, 12th Dist.: Watt faces challenge by Cobb

By Jessie Burchette
jburchette@Salisburypost
Ty Cobb, a career military man who interviewed for the “Survivor” TV show, may have taken on his biggest challenge ever.
Cobb, 68, of Rockwell is the latest Rowan County Republican to attempt to unseat Democrat Mel Watt.
Over the past 16 years, Watt has been the last man left on the 12th District island. He is seeking a ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Cobb has spent months in an almost one-man campaign, traveling along the district which spreads along Interstate 85 from Charlotte to Greensboro. He raised less than $20,000, compared to Watt’s more than $400,000.
Veterans’ care
Cobb and Watt have similar views on some key issues: changes proposed for the Hefner VA Medical Center and privatizing medical care for veterans. Both want the emergency room and support services left at the VA Medical Center here.
Watt is pushing the Department of Veterans Affairs to reverse its planned changes, pledging to do whatever is necessary to keep the emergency services in place.
Watt suspects the proposal coming at the end of the Bush Administration is part of an effort to privatize veterans’ care nationwide. Watt and Cobb agree that privatizing isn’t the way to go.
Economy
The economy is the dominant issue in the 12th District, as it is across the country. Watt has been intimately involved in trying to deal with the mortgage crisis and all aspects of the financial meltdown.
“Every time we’ve taken a concrete step (to fix the situation), there’s some new piece of bad news. It’s kind of defeated what we’ve tried to do,” Watt said recently.
“We never anticipated the bailout would be followed by a worldwide financial meltdown.”
Cobb said this week he probably would have opposed the first bailout package but supported the second package, which was approved.
Watt voted for both bailout packages.
“People are very, very nervous,” Cobb said. While he isn’t comfortable with the government buying stock in banks, he said he hopes it works. “I’m hoping that once they get on their feet, the government sells the stock and gets the hell out.”
Cobb also questions what Congress has been doing for the past several years, wondering why its members haven’t done things to prevent the financial mess.
Cobb’s ideas
Cobb’s No. 1 issue is to get Congress to work and solve problems and quit bickering. Cobb believes he can use his military leadership skills to improve the process.
He supports developing a solution to the nation’s energy crisis, including investing in alternate sources of energy. He also supports drilling in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge.
Cobb wants the U.S border secured. He wants to see U.S troops home from Iraq as conditions permit. He doesn’t favor a national health-care program for adults but would consider efforts to provide health care for children.
Watt’s viewWatt, who endorsed Obama during the primary, is optimistic Obama will carry North Carolina.
Watt said voters ask the question, “What is in my own economic interest?”
“I can’t imagine that anyone thinks a continuation of what has happened in the last eight years is in their interest,” Watt said.
One of the safest districts for Democrats in the state, the 12th district has voted for the Democratic presidential candidate in every general election.
Watt sees Cobb as a different sort of candidate than he’s faced in the past ó far different than Ada Fisher, the former member of the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education with a flair for getting attention.
“Ada Fisher brought her own set of smoke and fire. Cobb is not that kind of personality,” Watt said.
For more on the candidates, visit their Web sites.

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