Obama in NC, won’t mention Amendment One, frustrating young voters

Today, President Obama will be at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to give a speech on student loan interest rates, which will double in July if Congress doesn’t act. That’s not the big issue in North Carolina right now. North Carolinians are currently voting on the viciously anti-gay Amendment 1, which will ban marriage equality, and more, in the state. Early voting began on April 19th for the May 8th election.  Much of the opposition is coming from students. The President’s campaign issued a statement a couple weeks ago, which stated Obama’s opposition to Amendment 1.

Scott Wooledge is hoping that the President will add his own voice to the campaign today:

President Obama is scheduled to appear in North Carolina tomorrow. Will he speak out against the anti-gay amendment, as so many local conservatives and Republicans have already done? The Washington Post says, “Nope.”

Scott is referring to an article in the Post titled, “In North Carolina, more evidence of Obama’s delicate approach to gay rights“:

Two weeks from now, North Carolina will hold a public referendum on what could become one of the toughest anti-gay measures in the country: a far-reaching proposal to amend the state constitution to ban civil unions and domestic partnerships. But President Obama is not expected to touch the subject when he appears in Chapel Hill on Tuesday — even though it is roiling the electorate there.

Ah, yes. That delicate approach. Funny how that delicate approach isn’t a factor when money is the issue. This weekend, the NY Times Style section ran a piece on the White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard, which contained this nugget:

In a city where White House guest lists are dissected like WikiLeaks cables, insiders have already seen the hand of Mr. Bernard in the presence at the dinner for Mr. Cameron of nearly four dozen “bundlers,” or people who solicit campaign checks for Mr. Obama from their friends and associates. Mr. Bernard has at the same time become an important White House gatekeeper for prominent gay people, one of Mr. Obama’s most important but impatient constituencies, which remains frustrated that the president opposes gay marriage (Mr. Obama has said his views are “evolving”). In recent months, the president has turned more and more to gay men and women in search of new veins of large campaign donations, particularly after antagonizing Wall Street, a traditional but now less fruitful source of cash.

So, the gays are a new vein for cash for Obama. But, Obama still needs to be delicate on gay issues — or something like that. Anyway, back to North Carolina. We’ve heard repeatedly that campaign manager Jim Messina is targeting young voters this year. They are an important part of his roadmap for victory. Yesterday, Think Progress reported “Half Of Recent College Graduates Are Jobless Or Underemployed.” Not so good. Those young voters are going to need something to get them motivated to vote for the President. So, let’s hear from some of the young voters in North Carolina, a key battleground state. There’s this:

[Obama’s] delicate sidestep of Amendment One, a ballot initiative to be decided May 8 that would recognize marriage between a man and a woman as the only legal domestic partnership in North Carolina, is seen by some as another sign that he is not fully committed to gay rights — an interpretation that could dampen the enthusiasm of the young voters he is trying to court. “It’s a little bit of a missed opportunity,” said Josh Orol, 20, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a leader of a campus movement to defeat Amendment One. “I didn’t expect him to talk at length about it. I know he has come out publicly against it. But I sort of hoped he would at least name-drop a little bit. It’s disappointing.”

Disappointing isn’t exactly the kind of thing that inspires these voters. And, this:

Nonetheless, that approach is frustrating younger activists, many of whom have come to view marriage equality as the defining civil rights cause of their generation. They are impatient with Obama’s self-described “evolving” position on gay marriage — he supports civil unions but stops short of endorsing legal protections for marriage — and they are looking for signs that he is ready to embrace their cause more fully. “The ‘evolving’ position does frustrate people, especially young people, because it’s such a no-brainer to us,” said Jeff DeLuca, 21, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill and another organizer against Amendment One. “When it’s all said and done, young people are going to vote this down 70-30. There is just a very strong generation gap.”

We’ve been pointing out this generation gap repeatedly. Obama’s campaign has apparently built a ferocious organization in North Carolina. Messina could put that machine to work to help defeat Amendment 1. There is already an impressive campaign underway to defeat Amendment 1. Our side’s t.v. ads began airing yesterday. We can win — and we need help from all of our allies to turn the tide. Just seems like the Democratic convention in Charlotte could be a lot more fun if North Carolina defeats Amendment 1.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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