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Mon November 1, 2010
On the Campaign Trail with Mike McIntyre
By Michelle Bliss
11-01-10 – With Election Day tomorrow, candidates are wrapping up their campaigns and waiting for the numbers to do the talking. Most candidates have been on-the-go for months, including Democratic Congressman Mike McIntyre. He's running for reelection against Republican Ilario Pantano for the 7th District House seat. WHQR's Michelle Bliss joined Congressman McIntyre on the campaign trail last week and has this account.
"As the representative of the people, it is my honor to sign this check on behalf of the United States Congress and on the behalf of the tax payers of our area who are so blessed to have folks here at this fire department. Let me get the right ink pen "
Congressman Mike McIntyre presents a check for nearly $123,000. The money is for safer equipment for the 42 firefighters at Sloop Point Volunteer Fire Department.
McIntyre signs the over-sized plastic check in front of the fire station as traffic whizzes by on Highway 17 in Hampstead.
Chief Scott Sills says the federal funds were desperately needed.
"Yeah, there's no way we could do our job without the federal funding because, you're talking a $130,000 grant is a third of my budget. So, these things we would have to put off on 5 and 10-year plans, and not be able to do it immediately when we need it.
Along with Sills, one of McIntyre's campaign volunteers, former UNC football coach John Bunting, is also at the fire station to show his support.
Bunting moved to Pender County for his retirement. When he looks back on his glory days, he says he sees a resemblance between McIntyre and his Philadelphia Eagles coach, Dick Vermeil.
"I've had a lot of great mentors, Dick Vermeil being one of them. He reminds me a little bit of Mike--a real serious, go-getting guy, organized."
The three men gather around the check to pose for photos. Then they say their goodbyes.
Now, McIntyre is on to his next campaign stop: Paul's Place, a third-generation hotdog shop in Rocky Point that opened its doors back in 1928. Along with the hotdogs, onion rings, and soda, there's also a line of jars for sale filled with homemade relish, blueberry jam, and pickled peaches.
Congressman McIntyre: "What is the best thing on your menu you think we ought to get? Which kind of hot dog?"
Paul's Place owner David Paul: "You've got to have it all the way--mustard, Paul's relish, and onions."
McIntyre orders lunch from owner David Paul, before making his rounds, handing out bumper stickers and brochures. That's how he meets David Watkins, a retired truck driver and Pender County native.
"Your competition was just in here: Pantano. And I'll tell you the same thing I told him. If you get rid of that Obama character...I just got the bill for that today and I am thoroughly mad."
Watkins is referring to his healthcare bill. He says it rose $7,000 for 2011 because of the national healthcare bill.
"No, I'm with you and that's one of the reasons that we're working on ways to make sure that that bill itself can be repealed and do it in a way that helps people hold costs down and brings down insurance costs and medical costs as well."
After hashing out healthcare with Watkins, McIntyre chats with a pair of Cape Fear cosmetology students. He invites them to his final stop of the day: a campaign pig-pickin' at the historic Burgaw Train Depot. Then, McIntyre waves goodbye to the Paul's Place staff and heads back to his car in the gravel parking lot. He gives one final thought on why voters should choose him to serve an 8th term for the 7th district.
"You have to know the communities. You have to know where Watha and Willard are. You have to know where places like Paul's Place are. You have to know the small business owners and the farmers and the factories and the schools. And I've been a volunteer in the schools for 29 years. I've been a little league coach, taught Sunday school, and throughout my life, gotten to know the people and communities here."
With that, Congressman McIntyre hops in the car and continues on to his next stop: another check presentation in Kenansville.
He says he's actually been on the campaign trail since he started in Congress 14 years ago and despite the long hours and jam-packed itineraries, he wouldn't want it any other way.
WHQR was unable to produce a feature on Republican candidate Ilario Pantano. Pantano has refused to speak with NPR or any of its member stations.