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Dole focuses on border security, jobs

By Hugh Fisher
For the Salisbury Post
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole remembered her years serving President Ronald Reagan at Friday’s Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner, the Rowan County Republican Party’s annual gathering.
The dinner at the offices of Wallace and Graham honored two influential Republicans and gave the party’s candidates for office a chance to speak and be seen by constituents.
“I’m so thrilled to be back here with all of you tonight,” said Dole, who is seeking re-election to her Senate seat in November.
Her message to local Republicans touched on issues of interest nationwide: border security, the economy and national defense.
“We’re dealing with so many tough issues right now,” Dole said.
She presented a list of accomplishments that included preserving and expanding jobs at North Carolina’s military bases; the plan, which allows local law enforcement to help deport criminals who are in the country illegally; and the continuing efforts to help North Carolina’s economy survive changing times.
“I think it’s important to talk about these things that we care so much about,” Dole said, adding that she had received thousands of messages from constituents concerned about issues of national importance.
Health care is a key concern, and Dole said she was pleased with what she saw earlier Friday on a tour of Rowan Regional Medical Center’s newly-renovated emergency department.
“The new facilities are superb,” Dole said.
Off stage, Dole also responded to concerns about her vote in Congress against expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program ó a move condemned Thursday by one of her opponents, Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagen.
“There were many reasons why that was not the right legislation,” Dole told the Post. “For one, we don’t want taxpayers in North Carolina supporting adults in Wisconsin.”
The program would have used revenues from an increased cigarette tax to fund expanded health insurance coverage for children.
Many Republicans voted against the bill, and President Bush eventually vetoed it.
“It’s a regressive tax,” Dole said. “It would tax the very low-income people it was meant to serve.”
Dole was not the only one to speak on health-care issues at the event. Numerous other candidates for local and state offices were present, and most spoke to the same concerns that Dole raised in her speech.
Gubernatorial candidates Bill Graham and Pat McCrory were on hand, as were representatives from the campaigns of Judge Robert Orr and Fred Smith.
Each is trying to make the case that he is the best candidate for the state’s top elected position in the run-up to May’s primary election.
“I know folks in North Carolina are no different from everyone else in the state,” Graham said. “They have worries … We have a lot of challenges, but we have a lot of opportunities, too.”
Graham was at the meeting to emphasize fresh ideas and the experience of his grassroots campaigns against the gasoline tax and for health-care reform.
McCrory, meanwhile, runs on the strength of seven terms as mayor of Charlotte and his experience in fighting crime and illegal immigration.
“We need a candidate who can retake the office,” McCrory said.
Also on hand were Rowan County Commission candidate Carl Ford, who was honored with an award by the Rowan County Republican Party, and Dr. Ada Fisher, campaigning for the N.C. House in the 77th District.
Both said they were prepared for the challenges to come in their campaigns.
“I hope that one of the things the party stands up for is the idea of citizens first,” Fisher said.
She said that she wanted to see more done to improve health care as well as to combat illegal immigration. Fisher said the solutions to those problems will be difficult and could be expensive.
“We don’t want to be mean, but we want to be honest about what these things cost,” she said.
Ford said he hoped that the Republicans who attended the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner would be willing to work hard for the party’s causes.
“I think that what they’ll take away tonight is pride in Rowan County, in the people who are leading in local government and politics,” Ford said.
True to that spirit, Dole closed her speech with a message of encouragement for her fellow Republicans.
“We thank you for being here, for the funds you’ve raised,” Dole said.
“Sure, it’s a tough election cycle. But let’s get out there and do it for the Gipper. It’s our responsibility to get out there and work to win those elections.”
She called on local Republicans to support their candidates and lawmakers with “your money, your time, and your prayers.”
“When you work together to get things done, you can really accomplish something,” Dole said.
See story on awards given at the banquet, 3C.Contact Hugh Fisher at 704-797-4245 or hfisher@salisburypost.com.

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