Students quiz Coble at Corriher-Lipe

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
LANDIS — U.S. Rep. Howard Coble, R-N.C, stopped by Corriher-Lipe Middle School to chat with students in Tim Safrit’s eighth-grade North Carolina History class Thursday.
Students asked Coble five questions about topics ranging from the war in Afghanistan to immigration.
Hunter Travis: How long do you expect the U.S. to be involved in Libya and Afghanistan?
Coble: One vote that I regret that I made, and if I had the chance to do it over I would vote the other way, was when we dispatched troops to Iraq.
The reason I think it was a bad vote is it appears we had no post-entry strategy. I think we should have had a post-entry strategy and it was my belief that we had one, otherwise I would not have voted to go in there.
So, I’m about ready to say we’ve tried it, it hasn’t worked too well, let’s come home.
Kayla McClendon: It’s getting harder each day for the middle class to get by. What is our government doing to improve our economy? How long will it take to get out of this “hole?”
Coble: We have spent money that we don’t have for so long that we are going to have to address the reckless, imprudent spending that has brought us to this precipice.
It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be painful. …
The budget the next fiscal year will be examined soon and it’s going to be generously laced with cutting back on spending.
I think President Obama made a mistake when he concluded the No. 1 issue in the country was health care. I think health care is an important issue, but I think the No. 1 issue facing the constituents I represent in Rowan County and five other counties is lack of jobs and imprudent spending.
Jacob Layton: What are the current plans for a national health care program?
Coble: Americans are living longer. My mama was 95-years old-when she died and my daddy was 91. When I was your age, the longevity in this country was probably the low 50s, now you’ve almost doubled that.
When I said that was not the most important issue I didn’t mean to imply that it’s not an important issue because it is.
We need to resolve the lack of jobs and the imprudent spending first and then tackle the health care.
Mackenzie Ward: What’s happening to improve the future of the American worker? Where are the jobs?
Coble: It’s going to be addressed if we’re serious about reducing the recklessness that surrounds spending in this country. It’s not going to be addressed until that’s done.
Folks we’re at a dismal time in this country. Since I’m the oldest person in the room, I can say that with some authority.
We will recover. Will we recover tomorrow? No. Will we recover this year? I hope so.
But this is what happens when you spend money you don’t have, folks. …
Both parties are to blame. I’m a Republican, but my mama and daddy were Democrats.
Fermin Gonzalez and Mayra Hernandez: What plans does our government have to prevent (or deal with) the fact that deportation of illegals often leads to deporting children who are natural-born citizens?
Coble: Immigration is another issue that has been ignored too long
It’s going to have to addressed in some way. We cannot simply deport 10 million people tomorrow; that can’t be done logistically.
As far as, “We’ll ship them on back,” and I’ve heard folks say that, that’s a very insensitive, inhumane way to look at it.
It’s going to have to be done better, but it’s been ignored for so long that no party is guilty.
Safrit said Monday when Principal Dr. Beverly Pugh told him Coble would be stopping by his class, he started preparing the students for the visit.
“None of these questions were written by me,” he said. “They all came from students and parents. … Students went home and talked to their parents and came back with some really good feedback.
“The average middle-class worker doesn’t get an opportunity to meet face-to-face with a U.S. congressman, and they have questions.”
Safrit his class has studied the constitution this year and Coble’s visit was a good supplement to the lessons being taught.
After Coble left Thursday, students talked about their impressions.
“I think he had really good answers to our questions,” McClendon said.
McClendon said Coble’s thoughts on the economy calmed her fears.
“I see my family struggle every day. … He said some stuff to make me feel a sigh of relief,” she said. “I can go home and tell my parents that there might be an end to the madness.”
Brian Williams said he was surprised by several of Coble’s bipartisan responses.
“He didn’t blame the other party” he said.
Safrit said before Coble came he warned students that his answers might not match up to their expectations.
“I don’t think I was expecting him to be quite so moderate,” he said. “He spread the blame over both parties. He was unbiased or bipartisan when it came to answering these questions.”
School counselor Carol Arnold said she didn’t expect Coble to be so honest.
“I was very impressed that he actually admitted that he regrets putting troops in Iraq,” she said. “That led me to think he’s a real person because he was so open about that.
Arnold’s brother recently returned to Rowan County after a year of service in Iraq.
Several students were just happy to meet Coble.
“I was kind of nervous because my whole family is part of the Republican party, so it was kind of an honor to get a chance to ask him a question,” Ward said.
Destiny Whitman said the experience was a bit intimidating.
“I’ve never met a public official. It was strange to have him sitting like 10 feet away from me,” she said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.