06/30/04 — Barrett burns shoe leather to make his point

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Barrett burns shoe leather to make his point

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on June 30, 2004 2:01 PM

Dan Barrett has been to Wayne County several times on what he hopes will be his journey to the governor's mansion. But this is his first visit on foot.

Barrett is walking across North Carolina, greeting supporters, motorists and pedestrians along the way. He made it to Wayne County on Tuesday as he neared the 500-mile mark and entered Goldsboro this morning.

The long journey has captured the public's attention, Barrett said Tuesday afternoon as he made his way along U.S. 70.

"People really have become aware of what I'm doing," he said. "They come up to me all the time and say, 'You're the walking man.'"

Barrett, a Davie County commissioner, is trying to distinguish himself from the other five Republicans running for governor, before the July 20 primary. Recent polls have shown that many registered Republicans are still undecided.

"It's all going to come down to who is able to engage the voters and get them to go out and vote," he said. "This has raised my visibility, plus it allows me to do what I like to do, talk to people one-on-one and get to know them."

Barrett has received extensive TV and newspaper coverage since he started off in Murphy on May 5. He typically walks 15 to 20 miles a day, frequently stopping to talk to people in their front yards or in businesses. He broke Tuesday afternoon for a short interview at WGBR.

He walks four to five days a week before taking off time for campaign appearances or rest. His goal is to reach Swansboro by July 14.

He has lost five pounds during the hike. He probably would have lost more but for the rich diet on the campaign trail, he said. "Whatever I'm walking off, I'm putting back on."

Some days he wakes up sore or grumpy, he said. "I'm not at all sure that I want to go, but the people will always pick me up. Talking to folks gives me the energy to go on."

People have wanted to talk to him about their concerns about jobs, the economy and taxes, he said. Many have been concerned about the escalating cost of health insurance and prescription drugs.

Some people are still angry at the state government for withholding local revenues over the past few years to fix its own budget shortfalls, he said. Those cuts have directly caused property tax rates to go up.

Supporters are joining Barrett for sections of the hike, which earns them T-shirts that read "I walk with Dan."

One such person was Rebecca Robinson, a former Wayne County resident, who met Barrett at McCall's restaurant during an earlier campaign swing. "I was impressed with his honesty, integrity and leadership," she said. "People are his priority."

More information about Barrett, including a daily log of his trip, can be found at www.barrettforgovernor.com.