Rep. Mike McIntyre joined several House Democratic colleagues speaking to the North Carolina delegates in Charlotte today. Missing was embattled Rep. Larry Kissell, who was only a few miles away.
Redistricting in North Carolina made both Kissell’s 8th district and McIntyre’s 7th significantly more Republican. But while Kissell is keeping his distance from the Democrats gathering in Charlotte — particularly President Barack Obama — McIntyre is speaking out.
At the delegation breakfast, McIntyre touted his seniority in the House and took some digs at his Republican opponent’s plans to cut education spending and overhaul Medicare.
McIntyre said state Senator David Rouzer wants to turn Medicare into “a voucher system” and “give seniors a check and say: good luck.”
Last month, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee began running ads in the district hitting Rouzer’s Medicare stance, and the National Republican Congressional Committee responded in kind.
An NRCC ad knocks McIntyre for voting against vice presidential nominee and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget, which would transform Medicare by giving seniors a set amount of money to purchase insurance. The ad says Rouzer would protect Medicare.
McIntyre noted that if he is re-elected, he will be in line to be the second-ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture Committee, and third on the House Armed Services Committee, overseeing areas important to the state’s economy.
“If my opponent wins, North Carolina loses, because we would go to dead bottom last … and we can’t stand for that,” he said.
McIntyre also emphasized his faith, noting that he is a co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and asking the crowd to pray for the country’s leaders.
McIntyre’s race is the most competitive in the state, and both sides see a path to victory. Although Kissell has eked out close victories in the past two elections, his district is now more Republican and he faces a strong competitor in former Hill aide Richard Hudson.
In the past few months, Kissell has turned away from some of Obama’s policies which he supported in the past. For example, he voted against a Republican bill to repeal Obama’s 2010 health care law in January 2011, but supported repeal in July 2012.
Kissell’s absence today did not go unnoticed. On Monday, NRCC Executive Director Guy Harrison said he would pay for Kissell’s ride from his district to the Democratic National Convention.
““Given that Larry Kissell is such a strong backer of President Obama, it would be a shame to have him miss the opportunity to see Obama in his own backyard,” said NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek in a statement.
Kissell did not go unmentioned during the breakfast. Rep. David Price, another North Carolina Democrat, included him in the list of House Democrats all delegates should support, but his named received the smallest round of applause.