Five things you need to know to vote in November
Speaking before a friendly crowd at the Charlotte Chamber, Majority Whip Steve Scalise said he thinks there should be more civility and less demonizing of opponents in U.S. politics — but that only those who commit violence are to blame for their actions.
Scalise, who was shot and critically wounded last year in an attack by a gunman on the Republican congressional baseball team, visited Charlotte on Thursday to campaign for Mark Harris. Running for the open 9th District seat, Harris, a Republican former pastor, is locked in a tight race with Democrat Dan McCready, a Marine Corps veteran and a businessman.
“I’m all-in for Mark,” said Scalise, who then headed to Salisbury to stump with Rep. Ted Budd, also in a close race, and Rep. Richard Hudson. Despite forecasts from many national observers that Democrats are likely to pick up the 23 seats they need to regain control of the House, Scalise said he thinks Republicans can defy the odds.
“I feel confident that we’re going to hold the House, because good people like Mark Harris are running,” he said, accompanied by Harris. Scalise called McCready another “Pelosi-backed kind of liberal activist.”
McCready is seeking to flip a district that’s been held by Republicans since 1963 with a centrist campaign. He’s said he won’t back Pelosi for speaker of the House if he’s elected.
“Our message of putting country over party and putting North Carolinians ahead of partisan interests is resonating across our district with Republicans, independents and Democrats alike,” McCready said in a statement Thursday. “Folks are sick and tired of career politicians who would rather divide us than bring our communities together to get things done.”
Scalise’s appearance at the chamber in uptown Charlotte was mostly lighthearted, with jokes about the upcoming LSU-Alabama game and baseball. But coming less than a week after the massacre of 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue and the arrest of a Florida man for allegedly mailing a dozen pipe bombs to prominent Democrats and CNN, City Council member Larken Egleston, a Democrat, asked Scalise if leaders need to watch their rhetoric.
“I think we all can do a better job of watching our tone,” said Scalise. “Nobody is responsible for what my shooter did but my shooter.”
Asked after the event whether President Donald Trump — who has called the media “the enemy of the people” and inspires chants of “CNN sucks” and “Lock her up” at his rallies — should tone down his rhetoric, Scalise said everyone should be more civil.
“I think we all need to be careful about our rhetoric and everyone can tone things down a little bit,” he said. “The real issue is there are some people unfortunately, out there who are evil...I don’t think anybody that actually goes out and commits those kind of crimes, you can blame it on anybody else.”
Scalise, who represents a Louisiana district north of New Orleans, also said the U.S. doesn’t need more regulations on guns in the wake of mass shootings.
“You don’t want a situation where only bad guys have guns,” he said. “There are so many laws on the books that get broken every time someone commits one of these horrible acts.”
The latest poll of the 9th District, by The New York Times and Siena College this week, shows Harris with a 45-44 percent lead over McCready — a statistical tie, since the margin of error was plus or minus 5 points.
Reflecting how close the race is, a cavalcade of prominent Republicans have come through the 9th District in recent weeks, including the president twice, Sen. Lindsay Graham, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump Jr. Some well-known Democrats have stumped for McCready, including former Mass. Gov. Deval Patrick and singer James Taylor, have campaigned for McCready.
Harris said support from national Republicans could be crucial in holding the 9th District.
“It’s been critically important to us to have leadership coming here to be a part of this,” said Harris. “You can watch the 9th District in North Carolina on election night, see what direction it’s going, and if we’re able to succeed here...it could set off a wave that’s going to be a great night for Republicans across the country.”