A Closer Look: Hagan predicts tight race for the White House
Senator Kay Hagan talks about what President Obama needs to do to win re-election
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – North Carolina will be in the center of the political spotlight in 2012, hosting the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and carrying the title of "swing state" in the race for the White House. Although she is not up for re-election, Sen. Kay Hagan has traveled across the state to hear from the people who could ultimately hold her political future in their hands.
"There are 100 counties in North Carolina, and I've hit about 64 of them now," said Sen. Hagan, during a break from her "Conversations with Kay" schedule. "In Brunswick County (where she talked with voters Monday) people are concerned about education, our debt and deficit, our country's veterans, beach mitigation, many things that apply to this area."
Sen. Hagan is in her first term as the junior Senator from North Carolina, defeating Elizabeth Dole for the office in 2008. She considers the Democratic National Convention an opportunity for North Carolina. "We will be in the nation's forefront, and will be able to promote tourism from the mountains to the piedmont to the coast," she said in an interview in the WECT studio. "It's going to be a huge opportunity for us."
Sen. Hagan voted for President Obama's Affordable Care Act when it passed through Congress in 2010. In the days after the Supreme Court's decision to uphold the law, she quickly expressed her agreement. "I was pleased with the (Supreme Court's) decision," Sen. Hagan told WECT's Jon Evans. "I think a lot (in healthcare) has changed already. The fact that the insurance companies came out and said ‘no matter what the supreme court says, we are going to continue to allow children under the age of 26 to be on their parents healthcare, we want to continue to allow people not to lose their insurance coverage once they get sick'. The key point for so many people in the country is pre-existing conditions. That's very important in this ruling."
When asked if she thought President Obama's campaign for re-election would be hurt by Chief Justice John Roberts' ruling finding the individual mandate penalty to be "a tax", Sen. Hagan said no. Her contention is, even those who do believe the connection should realize it will impact workers who can afford health insurance, and choose not to get it.
"Everybody else who has insurance right now is paying more because of the free riders, the people who can afford insurance but opt not to pay for it," Sen. Hagan said. "That person who can pay, and decides to take a free ride, that's who will be paying that penalty in order to go without health insurance. Everybody else won't have to pay one thousand dollars a year on their policy to cover those people."
President Obama carried North Carolina when he won the White House in 2008. Sen. Hagan believes the President can win the state once again, but believes it will depend on how well supporters get out the vote here and across the country. There are some Democrats in the state's delegation that have not publicly endorsed Obama's re-election effort, Sen. Hagan does not criticize them for their decision.
"That is up to them," she said. "I want to represent all of the people of North Carolina. I didn't go to Washington to play these political games that are being played. I went to get things done, for the people of North Carolina and in this country."
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