First Posted: 1/15/2009
As the battle for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. presidency comes to North Carolina, U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre will stay on the fence and enjoy the primary process. The Lumberton Democrat says he will not endorse either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton before the May 6 vote in North Carolina or afterward.
“I have not made an endorsement and I do not plan to do so before the primary. I am eager to let the voters decide,” McIntyre said during a telephone interview from his Washington, D.C., office last week.
While other leading Democrats fear an August bloodbath at the National Convention in Denver that would play in favor of the Republicans, McIntyre sees the vigorous primary as a way to draw the attention of millions to his party’s plans.
As a congressman, McIntyre is one of the super delegates who may wield heavy firepower if the nomination isn’t clear by August.
“We should not despair. We have a process that can be, if handled in the proper way, very exciting and energizing — and create a lot of interest,” said McIntyre, who is unopposed in his re-election bid in May but will face a Republican in the General Election. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative to have a robust, healthy engagement on what electoral politics is all about … hopefully that would produce a stronger nominee.”
McIntyre would prefer a solid nominee before the convention.
“If, however, a single nominee is not already apparent by August, my hope is that rather than turmoil, that the convention be an opportunity to be part of an exciting process that will make sure the party comes forward in the strongest, most cohesive way possible, and that the convention a time of unifying the party,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre has traveled this road before. As a UNC law school student in 1980, McIntyre was chosen as an alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention, held at Madison Square Garden in New York.
“I was one of the youngest persons in North Carolina to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention,” he said, pride evident in his voice.
Once he’d settled into the convention, a regular delegate from North Carolina was a no-show and he was elevated to a full-voting delegate. That primary featured Ted Kennedy challenging President Jimmy Carter — and was more contention than celebration.
“I ended up supporting Jimmy Carter that night,” McIntyre said. “That was an exciting time. It showed me how important it is to get young people involved, and I carried that excitement and energy back to Chapel Hill that fall.”
The results of the state primaries will determine how many “pledged” delegates each candidate has at the convention; experts say that neither Obama or Clinton will have enough to secure the nomination before the convention.
That is why Clinton, who trails in the number of delegates, is focusing on the support of the super delegates.
“A super delegate has the liberty to stay uncommitted to convention,” McIntyre said.
McIntyre traveled to Iraq during Easter week to thank U.S. troops for their service. He also traveled as part of an American delegation through Africa and met with presidents and other top government officials in the Ivory Coast, Zambia, Cape Verde, Tanzania and Ethiopia to discuss cooperative efforts in combating terrorism.