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AFP wants right-to-work in state constitution

The North Carolina chapter of Americans for Prosperity on Wednesday called for a constitutional amendment to protect the state’s “right to work” law, which says workers can’t be forced to join unions and bans collective bargaining for public employees.

Chapter president Dallas Woodhouse made the announcement following the Michigan legislature’s approval of right-to-work legislation.

Woodhouse says AFP doesn’t doubt that the GOP-run legislature and North Carolina’s newly elected governor will uphold the law. But, he says, “fringe elements opposed to worker freedom continue to press for changes towards more forced unionization.”

The Koch Brothers-funded AFP has become an increasingly influential force in the state’s politics, with the ascent of the Republican-dominated General Assembly over the past two years.

Update: Thanks to Jonathan Kappler of the N.C. Free Enterprise Foundation, Dome is reminded that House Speaker Thom Tillis was talking publicly about doing this last fall. Add that to the to-do list for the 2012-13 session?

Perdue to lead Obama forum

Gov. Beverly Perdue will lead one of the Obama administration's five regional discussions on health reform.

Perdue, who was a hospital administrator and health consultant before entering politics, will lead a discussion in Greensboro on March 31st. Other sites will be in California, Iowa, Michigan and Vermont, Rob Christensen reports.

The announcement came on the day that President Obama held a health summit in Washington.

Details of the event will be announced later.

Dole's 2006 stops for NRSC

Sen. Elizabeth Dole visited a number of states in 2006.

As head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee that year, Dole campaigned for Republican Senate candidates in a number of states, according to news reports:

Minnesota: In March, Dole traveled in Minnesota on behalf of Senate candidate Mark Kennedy, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. 

Montana: In April and August, Dole toured Montana with Sen. Conrad Burns, according to the Associated Press.

Washington: On Aug. 25, Dole appeared at a $100-a-plate luncheon with Washington Senate candidate Mike McGavick, according to The Columbian.

Tennessee: On Aug. 28, Dole toured Eastern Tennessee with Senate candidate Bob Corker, according to the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Michigan: On Aug. 29, Dole went on campaign stops with Senate candidate Mike Bouchard, according to the Muskegon Chronicle.

Pennsylvania: On Aug. 31, Dole spoke at a press conference at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Arizona: On Sept. 22, Dole headlined an entourage of female senators at the Arizona Inn in Tuscon, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

New Jersey: On Oct. 11, Dole traveled in New Jersey, according to The Hotline.

Ohio: On Oct. 16, Dole traveled to Ohio, according to the N&O.

Missouri: On Oct. 18, Dole headlined a breakfast for Sen. Jim Talent, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Virginia: On Oct. 31, Dole appeared with Sen. George Allen at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch.

In addition, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says an official e-mail from Dole shows she traveled to Nebraska in August.

Clinton caravan locally organized

More than 20 North Carolinians will be on the bus to Washington.

A group of Hillary Clinton supporters plans to leave on a chartered bus at 2 a.m. to rally outside the Rules & Bylaws Committee deciding the fate of delegates from Michigan and Florida tomorrow morning.

Garner resident Almedia Cruz, a Clinton volunteer who organized the caravan, said the idea came from local supporters, though the national campaign found them a nicer bus after it got wind of the trip. The new bus, which seats 55, is normally used for sports teams.

The bus will make two stops to pick up more supporters along Interstate 95. Separate buses from Charlotte and Greensboro organized by backers there are also heading to D.C. tonight.

Supporters will pay $25 to cover the cost of gas and a driver. They're bringing their own signs and T-shirts and plan to come up with some chants during the five-hour drive.

"We haven't been given any instructions at all," Cruz said. "This is not being organized by the campaign. It was organized by our people here."

She said the group is a "united front," with all members agreeing that Clinton should get the delegates she won in Michigan and Florida and fight onto the convention.

"I believe that she has suffered in the press and been terribly disrespected," she said. "I've never seen this happen before, and I think it's because of the fact that she's a female. I'm just really disheartened with our country."

Clinton supporters heading to D.C.

A group of Triangle-area Hillary Clinton supporters are going to D.C.

Catherine Evangelista, a full-time political volunteer who helped set up the Clinton Meetup group before the May 6 primary, said a number of Clinton supporters will leave on a chartered bus at 2 a.m. tomorrow morning to attend the Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting.

The 30-member committee will decide what to do about delegates from the Michigan and Florida primaries. The two states moved their election date up in defiance of the Democratic National Committee, which originally stripped them of all delegates.

Evangelista, 45, of Cary, says the group believes — along with Clinton — that she should receive the delegates from those states, even though no Democratic candidate campaigned in them and Barack Obama's name was not on the Michigan ballot.

"Obama talks about having judgment," she said. "He tends to focus on the fact that he didn't vote for the war, but it was his judgment to pull his name off the ballot, and my understanding is that was political positioning prior to the Iowa caucuses. ... I think that shows a little more vision and planning on her part."

She also noted that Obama aired ads in media markets neighboring Florida, so some Floridians would have seen those ads.

Evangelista, who took a year off from a job in marketing to work on political causes after a car accident, said she does not see any reason for Clinton to concede the race until Aug. 28 — the last day of the Democratic national convention.

Chelsea answers audience questions

Chelsea Clinton dived into specific programs her mother has proposed.

After a brief introduction at the Young Democrats convention today, the former first daughter began answering audience questions on a variety of topics.

She earned loud applause from the audience when she said that Hillary Clinton has proposed eliminating the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, which college applicants must fill out in order to receive college aid, in favor of a checkbox on your tax form.

Among other things, she said that Clinton would forgive student loans for people who work in public service jobs, create universal health insurance, end the war in Iraq, expand the AmeriCorps program, reinstate the estate tax for people with assets of more than $7 million, make school lunch programs available year-round, reform food stamps and tie the Earned Income Tax Credit to inflation.

In response to a question about seating the Florida and Michigan delegates, Clinton said that the former has an "unfortunate" history of not counting votes.

"I wish that I were standing here after seven years of President Gore," she said.

What's next in the primary fight?

What comes after New Hampshire?

The next primary is Tuesday in Michigan, but it won't be a race among the Democrats. Because of a dispute over the timing of the election, Hillary Clinton is the only major candidate on the ballot, and she will not be campaigning in the state.

For Republicans, however, Michigan will be a key test for Mitt Romney. He's a native, and his father served as governor, so a loss there could further damage his campaign.

On Saturday, Jan. 19, Democrats will hold caucuses in Nevada, a key state for organized labor and Hispanics. The state's powerful Culinary Workers Union is expected to endorse Obama, but John Edwards has been courting unions there as well.

For both parties, South Carolina looms just over the horizon. Republicans will face off there on Jan. 19, with John McCain hoping to avoid the kind of devastating loss he suffered to George W. Bush there in 2000.

Democrats will face off in the Palmetto State the following Saturday, Jan. 26.

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