08/29/04 — Senate hopeful visits

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Senate hopeful visits

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on August 29, 2004 8:18 AM

The United States is at a crossroads, facing tough decisions on the war in Iraq, health care and the economy, U.S. Rep. Richard Burr said Friday in Goldsboro.

"If we make the wrong choices, our children will spend their lifetimes cleaning up our mistakes," Burr said. "Heaven help us if we give up the war on terrorism."

Burr, the Republican candidate for North Carolina's open U.S. Senate seat, asked the crowd of 80 people at Goldsboro Milling Co. to vote for him, President Bush and other Republicans running for Congress.

"If we keep things as they are now, we cannot expect more than what we have, which is political gridlock," Burr said.

Burr, a five-term U.S. House member, is running against Democrat Erskine Bowles, a Charlotte businessman and former White House chief of staff.

Louis Maxwell, one of the owners of Goldsboro Milling, said that he has known Bowles for a long time and considers him a friend. "But he doesn't have the same values that Richard has," Maxwell said.

Burr said that he has the experience and connections in Washington, D.C., to make a difference for the Tarheel State. He has worked closely with President Bush.

"The media gets him wrong -- they portray his leadership style as arrogant," Burr said. "I find him to be decisive."

That's important, given the challenges facing this country, he said. The U.S. needs to continue to pursue terrorists around the world.

"There is nothing we can do to make this group of people like us," he said. "Our only choice is to hunt them down, prosecute them, lock them up or kill them. ... We have no choice but to stick with this problem until we've licked it."

He also called for congressional action to limit the amount of money that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. The increasing cost of insurance is driving many out of the medical profession, especially obstetricians, neurologists and other fields that are more prone to suits.

"As I've campaigned, I've been to 12 communities that have lost their OB/GYNs," Burr said.

When people have to drive 60 or more miles for prenatal care, the health of infants will necessarily suffer, he said.

Burr fielded questions from the audience for more than half an hour.

Burr said he opposes same-sex marriage but doubts that Congress will be able to call for a constitutional amendment. At the least, it needs to clarify its own definition of marriage so that it refers exclusively to a man-woman relationship, he said.

He called the campaign-reform legislation passed last year as the "worst thing' Congress has done in his 10 years in Washington. That has allowed groups known as 527s to spend millions on attack ads.

"It's insane that we're allowing the 527s to do what they're doing," Burr said. "I don't believe it's a freedom of speech issue when they're telling outright lies."

N.C. Rep. Louis Pate asked about the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure review.

Burr replied that Congress would like to delay the BRAC until the current conflict is over. But he added that he thought that most N.C. military bases are in better position to gain personnel and missions than to lose them.

"I believe North Carolina could benefit if we're able to remove politics and other factors from the equation," he said.

In an interview after the appearance, Burr said that he believes Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is in "great shape" for BRAC.

Burr had campaigned in Goldsboro only two weeks ago. He's been concentrating this month on all areas east of Interstate 95, "the part of the state where I'm known the least," he said.

The son of a Presbyterian minister, Burr grew up in Winston-Salem. He graduated from Wake Forest University in 1978 and then worked in business for 17 years. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. House in 1992 and then was elected as part of the Republican landslide of 1994.

In the House, Burr serves as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Richard and his wife, Brooke, live in Winston-Salem with their two sons, Tyler, 19 and William, age 18.

For more information, go to www.burr2004.com.