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DNC Chair Discusses Charlotte's Selection As Convention Host City

WFAE's Mark Rumsey spoke about Charlotte's selection as the 2012 convention site with Tim Kaine, former governor of Virginia and current chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Tim Kaine: It was very close. The four cities each had their own assets and kind of each their own different story to tell, but I think the thing that really helped Charlotte was tremendous enthusiasm from the host committee and the mayor and the governor. We're very mindful of the fact that President Obama won North Carolina in 2008 in a very close race. We worked very hard to do that, and we're going to work very hard to win North Carolina again in 2012, and putting the convention in Charlotte was an indication that we're going to work this real hard. Finally, we also think that North Carolina has got a good story to tell in terms of the economy. North Carolina's economic arch from an economy that was about tobacco, textiles, and furniture to now, you know, a research-driven economy with advanced manufacturing and other new industries. Charlotte and North Carolina will be part of a story that we'll want to tell from now through Election Day 2012. Mark Rumsey: Now, North Carolina voters, last November, elected a state legislature that's fully controlled by republicans for the first time in well over a century. How do you read the irony in that along with today's decision? Kaine: Well, it'sNorth Carolina is a state that I view a lot like Virginia. This isn't a slam-dunk state where, you know, a democratic presidential candidate is going to win electoral votes every time. It had been since 1976 that a democrat had won North Carolina, just like in my Virginia it had been since 1964; but what we are interested in sending is that we don't mind campaigning in the challenging places. We're not necessarily just going to go to places where democrats always do well. But we think the president is going to be successful in 2012 as he was in 2008, by expanding the map rather than just playing on the small map. So it certainly isn't anything to take for granted, and we, one of the reasons to do a convention in North Carolina is that we think we can use it as a springboard to success. We'll work real hard to put on a good convention, and then that work will continue from into the convention all the way to Election Day. Rumsey: So, in a broader context, was it important for the 2012 convention to be held in the south? Kaine: I think it was. Again, each of the cities had a strong claim about "here's why we're important", and we could have gone into Minneapolis, Cleveland or St. Louis and felt good about the choice. The convention would have been put on well, but, you know, just as we wrestled with it as we got into the new year, we just kind of all felt a kind of a comfort level that we're going to play offense, not just defense. We want to play on an expanding map rather than on the same map or a shrinking map, and coming to North Carolina, coming to Charlotte was the way to do that. Rumsey: Recently, in some community discussions here in Charlotte about our school system, the head of the local NAACP referred to Charlotte as a racist bastion, and he talked of trying to boycott this Democratic National Convention effort. Are you familiar with that, and what's your thought on that at this point? Kaine: I am familiar with it generally, but my sense, both in talking to the mayor and others, but also I have a lot of friends in Charlotte, folks who are part of the Charlotte community, and we've dug into it and we feel very comfortable that we're going to be able to put on a convention that will be diverse and open and welcoming in all ways, and that all people who are part of Charlotte and the North Carolina community will find much to like about the way we do this. Rumsey: Do you think there's anything about this city's image that might be something to work with or overcome for convention goers? Kaine: I don't. No, I think it's going to be an exciting one. It will be a new thing for our convention goers because this city has not had a political convention before. I think that, in and of itself, creates some excitement, and thus far, the responses that we're getting back are from people who are very, very enthusiastic. Rumsey: Governor Tim Kaine, thank you for talking with us. Kaine: Yea, Mark. Glad to make the announcement today and look forward to working with the Charlotte community to make this very successful.