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'Rebuild America, Not Afghanistan,' Marshall Says At WFAE Event

WFAE's Mike Collins interviews Democratic Senate candidate Elaine Marshall.
WFAE's Mike Collins interviews Democratic Senate candidate Elaine Marshall.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elaine Marshall was in Charlotte last night trying to raise her profile in a race to unseat incumbent Republican Richard Burr. WFAE's Julie Rose reports Marshall's greatest challenge may be her lack of name-recognition. The U.S. Senate seat Elaine Marshall hopes to fill has changed parties every election since in 1979. Republican Richard Burr holds it now, so conventional wisdom suggests it's Marshall's year. Except this is not a good year for Democrats anywhere in the U.S. "We're a very angry nation right now," says pollster Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling in Raleigh. "From election to election we're just sort of going out and voting out whoever's in power. And this year, Democrats are getting blamed for all that's wrong in the country. Jensen's most recent poll of the Senate race shows, Burr ahead by 5 points and gaining. TV ads for him are in heavy rotation across North Carolina and Burr still has more than $6 million in his campaign fund. While Elaine Marshall has raised a mere $1 million and spent nearly all of it. No TV ads for Marshall, yet. One recent PPP poll shows Marshall remains unknown to 54 percent of North Carolina voters, like Felice Morgan. "I really don't know anything about her," admitted Morgan. "But I'm pleased that she's running against Richard Burr." That's why she attended a forum with Marshall in Charlotte last night. It was broadcast live on public radio stations across the state. And right away Marshall addressed a big issue on Felice Morgan's mind: gridlock in Washington: "I want this job because we truly need to change Washington," said Morgan. "We need to send people to Washington who can be part of solutions, not problems." WFAE talk show host Mike Collins who relayed questions to Marshall from the audience. Several wanted to know the top five issues that distinguish Marshall from Richard Burr. "Supporting small business" was the first issue Marshall mentioned, and one she returned to throughout the evening. "I had a decorating business and a card gift business," said Marshall. "I know how hard it is to be a small business person. They need to be the backbone of this engine and this recovery. I believe in assisting the Main Street. Richard Burr in contrast has bailed out Wall Street, has bailed out those folks and as of today has turned his back on Main Street and small business." She's referring to a bill that expands funding to community banks for small business loans. Burr voted against it. He also voted for the TARP bill that gave billions to big banks. Marshall says she would not have supported that bill because it lacked enough structure to guarantee the banks didn't misuse the money. And she says tax cuts for wealthy Americans that were passed during the Bush Administration should be allowed to expire. "When you've got folks like LeBron James who are basically in the same situation as I am and my neighbors, that doesn't make sense in this country," said Marshall. "It's a $700 billion hole in the deficit over a 10 year period of time - that's one very clear place where we can find those additional revenues." Another is the defense budget. Marshall has said the country should be focusing on "rebuilding America, not Afghanistan." "We have been investing in teachers there when teachers here are getting laid off," said Marshall. "We have been investing in a police force there that is riddled with scandal and corruption and police officers are being laid off here." Marshall says she did not support President Obama's move to send more troops to Afghanistan. On the subject of immigration, Marshall's position does align with the president. "We need to tighten our borders, that's first and foremost," said Marshall. "We need to enforce the laws that we have and that means against employers, also." And, she says, we need a national solution to immigration, not a patchwork of individual state laws. Marshall makes it clear she does not align with the Democratic party on every issue. That pleased Andrew Beary, who attended the forum: "The impression I got was that Elaine Marshall is not an extreme Democrat," said Beary. "I think she's more geared towards compromises that will make progress and I was glad to hear that." Marshall's opponent, Republican Senator Richard Burr, has so far declined to participate in a similar forum on public radio. A campaign spokesman says Burr is too busy voting on legislation in Washington. Correction: A previous version of this story said Elaine Marshall would support a second stimulus bill. Marshall would NOT vote for a second stimulus as currently proposed by President Obama. However, she says she would have voted for the first stimulus bill, also known as the Amercian Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.