Recap of Sunday's Jim Neal liveblog on Pam's House Blend

North Carolina U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal stopped by Pam's House Blend last night to do his first forum ever on an LGBT blog. It was a whirlwind hour of Q&A with Blenders.

As liveblogging is a virtual speed session, and Jim Neal was peppered with a ton of questions on a wide range of issues -- not just LGBT ones -- I'm posting this summary (and cleaned up typos) for easy reading.

What North Carolinians are looking for in a Senator:
North Carolinians-- like the rest of the USA-- are fed up with professional [politicians. They are disillusioned-- the approval ratings for the Dem Party is below that of the President. They want leaders who offer real solutions to the war, economic security and rising health care costs.

Some Washington insiders think I should get out of the race-- but my opponents don't have the advantage I do of genuine outsider status. I'm not a politician and I'm proud of that. It's my strong suit-- but it makes me more dependent on the financial support of people just like all of you-- be it big or small dollars.

I've had to balance and draw up budgets for small and big businesses. I've worked in the private sector and not inside a political bubble. We have to spend within our means-- and this Administration and its political enablers like Mrs. Dole in the Congress don't have a clue as to how to do that.

On Don't Ask, Don't Tell:
I oppose and have always opposed "don't ask don't tell." It's ludicrous. The young servicemen and servicewomen with whom I have spoken have had one consistent response: "I don't care who serves so long as they've got my back."

On marriage equality:
If a church wants to marry people they can; if they don't they don't have to do so. I oppose all forms of discrimination-- institutional or otherwise-- by the government.

On whether homosexuality as a political wedge is losing its edge:
It has been in the past. I'm not running to lose-- and as I've said before I have faith in the good people of this State to not be fooled by non-issues such as whether a candidate is a man or a woman, gay or straight, black or white, blonde-headed or red-headed. So-- get involved and prove the fearmongerers wrong.

His view of the Senate's role in the confirmation process of Supreme Court justices, as it's likely that there will be Supreme Court retirements and the court may rule on marriage equality as cases making their way there:
Members of the Senate-- and mind you that CJ Roberts and Justice Alito were confirmed by the GOP majority at the time-- have done an abysmal job in vetting judicial candidates. We are appointing activist judges---not prudent and thoughtful jurists.

On the role of the DSCC in the primary, which worked hard with local pols to recruit a primary challenger to run against Neal after he disclosed his sexual orientation. He had been the sole candidate up until that point.
The DSCC doesn't vote in North Carolina. We have elections and primaries and not coronations. That's why it's critical to raise the funds to compete in a statewide race. I don't expect all the big DSCC supporters to write $2,300 checks but I hope you and others will help grow this movement by involving your friends, family, neighbors and coworkers.

On his plan to visit all NC counties as opposed to focusing solely on blue enclaves:
The 100 county strategy is critical to a Dem succeeding on our state. That being said, this will require small-dollar support from across this state so I can get off the phone dialing for dollars and out in those counties listening and meeting voters. But it also requires help from people like you. I'm a novice at running for office and don't have the well-connected ties of my opponents-- so I know if I earn your support me by volunteering, visting our website and signing up for the TEN SQUAD--- we can grow exponentially.

How to talk to voters about immigration, as Dems have been advised to "move right" on the issue.
Sensibly. Wedge issues divide us as a nation. And, clearly, as a nation we have to fix a legal immigration system which doesn't work. That's the job of the beltway gang-- and they didn't even debate the issues with other than to try and throw red meat to their special interest buddies.

And-- we're no closer than we were when Senator Dole was elected 6 years ago to a solution-- which starts with an honest debate about the challenges.

On the treatment of veterans, and Dole's horrible record of supporting the troops:
No doubt-- Washington is doing a shameful, repugnant job of honoring our veterans when they come home: be it underfunding the VA or not supporting expanded educational and training opportunities. That makes me damned mad-- and I won't accept it once I'm in the Senate. The people of this State and this nation deserve so much better.

Health care:
Health care costs are and have been rising at an alarming rate. For instance, my health care premiums are almost $1,900/monthly!... I'm going to have to opt-in to a cheaper plan but can't do so immediately for fear of losing what I've got.

All Americans other than those with the highest incomes are dealing with this issue. I have solutions-- in a word, every single man, woman and child in this State and this country should have access to affordable health care. Health care is a RIGHT, not a PRIVILEGE!

The role of blogs and the reaction of average NC citizens to his candidacy:
The blogosphere and social networking sites are changing the face of the political process. They providce a voice and power to those often ignored b/c they didn't have the big $ to get the attention of politicians. They are the future.

Average people have been incredible-- (whatever "average" means :-) )-- I've received tons of letters and encouragement from people all across this state. They want change.

On what can be done to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels:
The states-- not the federal government-- are taking the lead on tackling in a responsible manner the threats posed by global warming. Read: the STATES are leading while Washington stands still!

Guys-- why do we elect politicians to federal office who don't get out in front of an issue like this? Why, I ask people all the time? If we want more of the same then keep sending politicians back to Washington-- and we'll get more of the same.

My son and a friend of his were ranting at me this week about the USA's failure to lead the world in a coordinated effort to save the environment. They're disillusioned-- and they should be. Remember-- this is a global issue of which we are but one of a number of major players. The solutions must be comprehensive and global. Diplomacy must occur in sync with legislation. And America's diplomatic stature has been scorched during the years in which Senator Dole and the Bush-Cheney administration have failed to lead this nation.

 I realize that this is a broad response to your question. I can offer you this pledge: I will move forward with a sense of urgency in the Congress to put this issue at the front of the burner...instead of sticking my head in the sand. And here are two actions which Congress can initiate quick-time:

1. Enforcing more agressive emission standards for automobiles-- hybrids may cost more today, but like the I-Pod adoption drives lower pricing.

2. Reward- whether by tax credits or outright subsidies- the acceleration of the alternative fuels industry. Good for the environment and job growth.

***

Senate campaigns are no walk in the park; it could take $15 million to win, and he has to make it through a primary where the DSCC is going to try and choke off support from national donors, and the state Dem establishment will push funds to Hagan. 

Neal will need support not only from North Carolinians -- he's reaching out to the blogosphere for support to change business as usual in Washington.

-- Jim Neal's official campaign web site.
-- Jim Neal's ActBlue contribution page.
-- Jim Neal for Senate Facebook group.

The archive of Pam's House Blend Jim Neal posts is here.

Comments

Thanks, Pam

That was a great session last night. I love how Jim Neal says what he means. Very refreshing.

I like what he has to say, but

What about gay marriage? He repeated there his answer from the live blog here... almost word for word. His answer seems calculating to me. It stands out because he's very direct on most other matters.

I still want to know if he supports full 100% equal rights in marriage and in all circumstances for GLB&, yes, T Americans. I want to know that of all candidates, but especially Neal as an open homosexual candidate.

At least he answered - and directly.

Has Hagan given any indication on her feelings on this?


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Damn you're hard to please

The guy says the same thing twice in a row and you're accusing him of "calculating?" That's crazy.

The issue is a hot-button issue. Shooting from the hip about it is stupid.

From what I can tell, he's been very clear and direct on this issue. Laws should not be used to discriminate against anyone. Churches don't make laws, they can do whatever they want when it comes to marriage.

Sheesh.

Which is enough to win my vote.

Even if I didn't like the rest of what he says. But I do. So you know - I think I know who I'm voting for.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

It's one of my big issues

And I don't think Hagan has been asked. Nor do I believe that she will support gay marriage.

But, as I said during the EDNA Schuler debate, saying that you are against discrimination does not mean that you are for 100% equal rights. Congressman Quarterback said he doesn't think the government should discriminate, yet he voted against legislation to ban workplace discrimination.

Believe me, I know that it's a hot-button issue, but it's an important one. Giving a yes or no answer to the gay marriage question doesn't qualify as 'shooting from the hip' in my book.

So that's twice he's dodged the question IMHO. Same language indicates a canned answer.
1) No one says they're in favor of government discrimination. Not even Trent Lott.
2) Churches are not at issue here. I could care less what churches recognize. What's at issue is what the government recognizes.

I've supported plenty of candidates who give me the standard non-committal on gay-rights. I expect them to and I've heard from many elected leaders that they're in favor of gay-marriage but cannot say so publicly. Fine with me, so long as they keep the ball moving forward.

But why, as an open homosexual, would Jim Neal have any reason to moderate his language? That's where the calculating comment came in.

I just don't think you want to see his answer for what it is

What I see in his answer is that he's for gay marriage. He doesn't think the government has the right to deny same sex couples the right to marry and he doesn't think any church should be required to offer marriage services. That's basically what he says.



***************************
Vote Democratic, the ass you save may be your own.

I believe his answer was sufficient,

but even if it was (as you claim) ambiguous or non-committal:

I've supported plenty of candidates who give me the standard non-committal on gay-rights. I expect them to and I've heard from many elected leaders that they're in favor of gay-marriage but cannot say so publicly. Fine with me, so long as they keep the ball moving forward.

But why, as an open homosexual, would Jim Neal have any reason to moderate his language? That's where the calculating comment came in.

why would you give heterosexual politicians a pass for not publicly supporting gay marriage and then accuse a homosexual of being "calculating" because he didn't shout it from the treetops? Do you expect him to push gay rights to the top of his platform because he's gay?

For now anyway, the gay marriage issue is out of the Federal government's hands and is mostly a State issue. With the possible exception of another DOMA (which I'm sure Jim wouldn't even consider voting for), this is not an issue in a U.S. Senate race.

we live in a shitty bigoted world

where candidates can't seem too supportive of gays. That's the sad political reality. That's why I give them a pass... grudgingly.

But I don't see any reason for Jim to need a pass... being gay he really doesn't have to deal with that issue, like his breeder-candidate counterparts. So why is he giving the same middling answer that all Democrats give to that question, including the EDNA-denying Health Schuler.

Also, I should have said "I've supported many straight candidates who give me the standard non-committal..."

You shouldn't give them a pass.

They're responsible for all of their constituents. The straight, the gay, the bi, the trans, the black, the brown, the white, and everything. If they are not against discrimination of any of their constituents, they are for it. It's a (pardon the pun) a black or white issue. This is one where there are no shades of grey.

That said, I don't think Neal was waffling on the issue. He said that anyone should be allowed to marry anyone. A church shouldn't be forced to marry a couple they didn't want to marry. That works. As long as two women or two men can go to the county clerk's office and get a marriage license - then yippee skippee who cares what the Baptist Church on the Corner says?

I've supported candidates who don't have what I consider the right answer on this issue. But they sure know what I consider the right answer - because I let them know. And I sign my name in really big letters. :)


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

VERY well said

I give them a pass and support them anyhow. But I always hammer the issue in private. That's how I know so many support gay marriage, but just can't say so in public yet.

I don't care what any church does or does not recognize. I just want our government to give everyone the same rights, including the right to marry.

I keep making this point because I’ve heard from so many people that they support gay marriage, but just can’t take that final step beyond the “civil union” compromise. I was really hoping that Jim would take that step since he obviously doesn't have to worry about appearing "too friendly" with the gays, as is the case with his hetero-colleagues.

But I get your point. And appreciate it. Equality is my number one issue and I'm just disappointed that Jim hasn't said that he supports gay marriage. In those words.

I thought he did.

I'm going to go back and look for the quote.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I should be offended by this:

breeder

and I might just be after I finish laughing, but for now it's merely quality entertainment. :)

Seriously, if you connect the dots with Jim's other progressive viewpoints, you will come to the conclusion that he will be there for the gay community when it matters.

Gay rights are not going to be achieved by gay people, they are going to be achieved by the majority of all people.

And that's exactly how it should be

because as long as one of us is denied civil rights, all of us can be.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

What he said about gay marriage was a word for word answer.

Someone posted the answer for him.

JWN covered this in his Blue NC discussion in October...

"It's okay if churches want to unite same-sex couples; it's okay if they don't. That's their Constitutional right which I support 100%. But when it comes to the Government, I'm not in favor of any laws that discriminate against anyone for any reason."

by: jonijoe @ Sun Nov 11, 2007 at 19:54:57 PM CST
[ Parent ]

Hope that clears up the confusion.

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

Progressives are the true conservatives.

Is that from today's interview?

Because if it is, it doesn't clear anything up. It's the same answer. Word.for.word.

hmmmmm...

Word for word is good.

If I were responding in a hostile media environment, I wouldn't go off script on anything. Neal, on the other hand, seems comfortable saying what he thinks in almost any venue.

Maybe he said what he said because it's what he thinks?

A

PS Remind me to never get on your bad side. You put bulldogs to shame with your persistence in digging in on whatever you find needs "clearing up." The way I see it, just because he's not playing your semantics game, doesn't mean it's not clear.

I may have a bulldog as my icon from now on :)

And I keep asking, because he's not answering the question. Sure, it looks like he supports gay marriage, but good political answers always look like whatever you want them to without actually committing anyone to anything.

Maybe he said what he said because it's what he thinks?

I don't doubt that he believes that churches should do what they want and that the government shouldn't discriminate against anyone. But find me someone who doesn't believe these two very general statements. Seriously, I bet Liddy Dole would agree with them and her conservative supporters would interpret them as a reaffirmation of her pro-life pro-Christian-right viewpoint. Like I said, a wonderful bit of rhetoric. But I don't buy it now that he's used it three times in a row.

While that type of skilful rhetoric may show me that he is an adept politician, it goes against his rhetorical style on other issues and makes me feel as if he doesn't support gay marriage.

And Anglico, don't worry about me unless you don't give a straight (sorry) answer on one of the most important issues in progressive politics. In my mind, it's not a matter of semantics when he consistently dodges tough the question. Opposing discrimination is not the same as supporting marriage equality.

It's not from today's interview,

It's from Pam's live blogging session in which someone ( I'm sure to be helpful to Jim) took the initiative to copy and paste the responses Jim had given to the questions that had already been answered here on BlueNC.

Jim did NOT answer the same way twice.

Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

Progressives are the true conservatives.

You're welcome.

n/t
Have you called to support H. Res 333 Impeach Cheney Today? call 202-224-3121 & ask for your Congress member by name

Progressives are the true conservatives.

Yeah - here it is.

I think it's pretty clear. It's from the liveblog here on BlueNC.

Gay Marriage
Submitted by omega_star on Sat, 10/20/2007 - 9:28am.

Where do you stand on gay marriage?

Submitted by JimNeal on Sat, 10/20/2007 - 10:05am.

It's okay if churches want to unite same-sex couples; it's okay if they don't. That's their Constitutional right which I support 100%.

But when it comes to the Government, I'm not in favor of any laws that discriminate against anyone for any reason.

I interpret that as saying that churches - being separate from the state, as they should be - have the right to perform or not perform marriages as they see fit. The Government however, should not discriminate for any reason. Which (to me) means that he's in favor of the government issues marriage licenses to same gender couples. It really seems clear. And good for him.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I saw that.

It's almost word for word what he said on Pam's blog.
I too can easily interpret that statement as he supports gay marriage as well. But it sneakily doesn’t say anything either way on the marriage issue. It's a half answer if you look closely.It's the same thing that Health Schuler says, "I don't support government discrimination." But that certainly doesn't mean Schuler is in favor of gay marriage.

Neal has a nicely worded statement that, I think, moves around the issue. That's why I keep bringing this up. The fact that he said it twice makes me really suspicious. I've been in this game long enough to recognize a calculating answer.
And again, I'm grudgingly o.k. with calculation on this issue in most cases. But why would Neal calculate if he's already an open homosexual?

well, I disagree with you that it's hedging.

but the fact that he's an open homosexual shouldn't enter into it at all. He's a candidate for office - and his views should be vetted the same way you'd vet any other. Most candidates have a standard answer for questions that they know they're going to be asked again and again and again. That's smart - that way they can't get caught with - but in Charlotte you said X, and now you're saying Y. My advice - if you want to know what he thinks beyond the statement he's already made - write to him and ask. See if you get an answer.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

That's another good point

I shouldn't hate on the canned answer.

I'm at work and can't call in. Perhaps someone could ask him on the call in show tonight. I don't have sat. radio anyhow I guess.