NASCAR and Obama? Not so fast

It appeared that Barack Obama may have found a running mate – racecar driver Ken Schrader.

Sports Illustrated reported Friday that the Democratic presidential candidate is in talks to sponsor Schrader's No.49 car at Pocono on Aug. 3

Late Friday, however, the Obama campaign said there would be no sponsorship.

“The Obama campaign will not be sponsoring a car in the Sprint Cup series, though we will continue to look for ways to reach out to voters,” said Bill Burton, an Obama campaign spokesman.

Obama wouldn't have been the first presidential candidate to buy into racing. In 2002, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' political action committee sponsored a dirt-track racer in Iowa. Jim Morrill

Cotham gets nod for being open on campaign funds

Democratic Rep. Tricia Cotham of Charlotte was among 21 legislators recognized this week by Democracy North Carolina for doing “a superior job” in providing details about the sources of their campaign money and the uses to which it was put.

“We've seen a welcome improvement in the level of detailed information provided by candidates for state office,” said Bob Hall, executive director of the watchdog group. “A large number … are going beyond the minimum to provide important details that help the public understand the sources and uses of money in political campaigns.”

The 21 include President Pro Tem Marc Basnight, D-Dare, and House Speaker Joe Hackney, D-Orange. Cotham replaced former Speaker Jim Black, a Mecklenburg Democrat whose corruption conviction prompted tighter finance disclosure rules. Jim Morrill

GOP invites grassroots ideas through Web site

National Republican leaders unveiled a Web site Friday that they hope will encourage grassroots participation in the shaping of the party's 2008 platform.

Republican leaders say they believe the site, www. gop plat form2008.com, will create an online community allowing anyone to offer ideas, comment on others' ideas, and submit videos explaining their views.

“I feel certain we'll get some great ideas,” said U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., co-chairman of the Republican platform committee. “Will that be the majority? I have no way of gauging.”

What the site certainly will generate for the Republican National Committee is a ready-to-go database of contact names for future fund-raising. Users will be required to register in order to comment. Barbara Barrett, (Raleigh) News & Observer

No Charlotte visit in immediate Obama plans

Mechanical problems with Barack Obama's plane deprived Martin Middle School Principal Anna Renfro and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Superintendent Peter Gorman of face time with the presidential candidate this week. Renfro said she's hoping Obama reschedules a visit to her school and gives her another chance.

So far there's no word on that. “We expect he'll be coming back to North Carolina shortly, but it's not yet on the schedule,” said Marc Farinella, state director of the Obama campaign.

Meanwhile, the question lingers: Why did the Democratic campaign schedule a talk on the economy in the northeast Charlotte middle school, which is named for former Republican Gov. James Martin?

Campaign officials were murky on details. Bud Cesena, who's in charge of the school district's law enforcement, said schools have space in the summer. And he said Martin is easy to reach from Interstate 85, has plenty of parking and is easy to secure. Ann Doss Helms and Jim Morrill