Gov. Mike Easley told N.C. delegates Wednesday that Harvey Gantt's U.S. Senate races laid the groundwork for Barack Obama in North Carolina.
“We've got a score to settle,” Easley said.
Gantt, Charlotte's first African American mayor, beat Easley in a runoff to win the 1990 Democratic Senate nomination. He went on to lose to Republican Sen. Jesse Helms that year and again in 1996.
“We had a chance to elect the first African American statewide in North Carolina, and we came that close and fell short,” Easley said.
Later Easley told reporters the Gantt campaigns “showed that race is something you can transcend, and I think Barack Obama has done that.”
Easley out of his shell
Easley seems to be enjoying politicking at the Democratic National Convention.
Easley, who normally eschews politics, has been busy working the convention.
He has been attending fundraising receptions for the Democratic Governors Association, has given more than 20 press interviews and is speaking to delegations from such states as Kansas, Michigan, Arizona and Virginia.
Easley told N.C. delegates Wednesday that Republican John McCain would have a difficult time in the state for two reasons: the Iraq war and a troubled economy.
‘Almost like a goodbye'
In a bittersweet gathering, Sen. Hillary Clinton formally released her convention delegates Wednesday afternoon.
Clinton spoke to more than 2,000 people, mostly delegates, at the Colorado Convention Center. When she announced her intention to release delegates to vote the way they pleased, she was met with shouts of “No!”
“It was almost like a goodbye but not a goodbye,” said delegate Barbara Sharpe of Concord. “My thing is, I think Obama can be a good president. The difference is, I know Hillary Clinton would be a good president.”
Clinton delegate Marc Friedland of Charlotte said party unity is up to Obama.
“Any disunity that might be there is on the shoulders of Barack Obama,” he said. But, he added, he'll still vote Democratic in November.
“You don't always get the leader you want,” he said, “but you get the party you want.”