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Burr: Romney showed greater command of foreign policy

Republican Sen. Richard Burr said Tuesday that the presidential debate showed that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney had “great command of foreign policy and of national security” and a higher degree of understanding of the world than did Barack Obama when he took office four years ago.

In a post-debate teleconference with North Carolina reporters Tuesday morning, Burr said Romney would bring a consistency to U.S. Foreign policy that has been missing during the Obama administration.

He said the debate showed two very different visions between the candidates.

Karl Rove, Robert Gibbs to debate at Duke University -- with restrictions

Karl Rove and Robert Gibbs will square off at Duke University before the presidential debate Oct. 22 -- but don't expect to catch this one on television.

Only the audience at the university's Page Auditorium will get to see Rove, the former Bush administration strategist, and Gibbs, the former spokesman to President Barack Obama, debate because cameras and other recording devices are banned.

Dalton's new website attacks McCrory as it defines governor's race

Walter Dalton is trying to make the choice for governor crystal clear for voters, debuting a new website Thursday that stacks his ideas against Republican Pat McCrory.

The website is expectedly one-sided and at times outright wrong, lacking the space and the depth to truly reflect the candidates' positions. One example of the bold accusations: "Pat McCrory looks down on rural areas," reads one point. "Pat McCrory wants some children left behind," says another.

Wilkins says Congresswoman Renee Ellmers is dodging debate

Democratic challenger Steve Wilkins is calling on Republican Congresswoman Renee Ellmers to debate -- but so far she is refusing.

Wilkins said that Ellmers, who represents the 2nd District, has turned down an offer to debate on WTVD in Raleigh. “Voters deserve some answers from Rep. Ellmers about her record,” Wilkins said. “Debates should be a basic part of the electoral process.''

Morning Roundup: McCrory-Dalton debate likely to get overshadowed

North Carolina’s major candidates for governor will hold the first of three statewide televised debates Wednesday, in a match-up that could be overshadowed – like much of their campaign – by the presidential contest.

The debate, sponsored by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation, was designed to piggyback on interest in the presidential debate. But not everyone is convinced that the governor’s debate will benefit from the pairing. Read more here.

More political headlines:

--Five weeks before Election Day, about 14,000 North Carolina voters already have cast absentee ballots – a total equal to President Barack Obama’s margin of victory in 2008. The number is etched into the minds of conservatives who are placing a greater emphasis than ever this year on absentee voting by mail, suggesting it could make the difference in another tight election contest.

Pittenger, Pendergraph tangle in TV debate

Republicans Jim Pendergraph and Robert Pittenger agreed on issues but tangled over questions of ethics and flip-flops during the first and last televised debate of their 9th District runoff campaign for Congress.

Pendergraph accused Pittenger of acting illegally in voting for a bill as a state senator in 2003 that affected property he owned.

“You broke the law,” Pendergraph told him. “And our party cannot afford to have a black cloud hanging over it.”

“I’m sorry that Mr. Pendergraph has gone to this level,” Pittenger replied.

Morning Roundup: Early voting starts amid Democratic Party controversy

Voters will begin casting ballots Thursday throughout North Carolina. At stake: primaries for hundreds of local, state and federal offices – and a make-or-break vote on a proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution. Check out the voter's guide and get a list of early polling places.

--The lascivious details Wednesday in the sexual harassment case involving party leadership magnified the spectacle embarrassing the state Democratic Party in an election year and came just days before President Barack Obama is expected to visit North Carolina.  Read story here.

--In what sounded like a preview of his own acceptance speech, Republican Mitt Romney came to Charlotte on Wednesday to make a case against President Barack Obama as a failed leader whose policies have made the economy worse. Read more here.

--The Democratic gubernatorial candidates pledged if elected to veto any bill requiring photo identification to vote. Wednesday evening’s discussion was the third and final televised debate held on three consecutive nights leading up to the May 8 primary election. Read story here and get the pundits take on the debate.

Morning Roundup: Democrats turn up heat in debate, party controversy

The Democratic gubernatorial candidates sharpened their criticisms Tuesday night, drawing more pointed contrasts with each other’s records in the second in a series of televised debates. 

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge heard his congressional record on trade and his tenure as superintendent of public instruction come under fire. Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton found himself defending his attendance record and his advocacy of Democratic causes in the legislature. Read the story here. And get the pundits' take on the debate.

Other headlines:

-- The calls for Democratic Party chairman David Parker to resign snowballed Tuesday, leaving his tenure short on days. Gov. Bev Perdue, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Congressman Bob Etheridge all reversed course to call for his ouster after trying to avoid the controversy for days.

The Charlotte Observer is calling it the "April Surprise" and the paper's cartoonist gets in his take on the candidates' reactions to scandal.

N&O Pundit Panel: Etheridge embraces Washington, Dalton gets into policy weeds

The News & Observer asked four area political pundits to share their reaction about Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate. Here are their thoughts:

Andy Taylor, political scientist at N.C. State University: “The candidates are really beginning to distinguish themselves. Faison was feisty, repeatedly using language that the party’s base would approve of. Etheridge discussed his experience and steady hand, embracing his Washington record in a way you just don’t see candidates doing these days. Dalton, perhaps because he is left with no choice, projected himself as a technocrat, full of practical ideas.”

Thomas Mills, Democratic political strategist and co-founder of Bates & Mills Consulting in Carrboro: “The candidates’ closing arguments summed up their appearances pretty well. Walter Dalton talked about programs and policies; Bob Etheridge talked about experience and leadership; and Bill Faison talked about himself.”

Morning Roundup: Democratic debate round 1 ends with little discord

The major Democratic candidates for governor held their first televised debate Monday night, rapping the Republican legislature for education cuts but offering only muted criticisms of one another.

Introducing themselves to what polls suggest is a large number of undecided voters, Lt Gov. Walter Dalton, former Congressman Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison spent much of the hour talking about their backgrounds and discussing how they would work to address North Carolina’s high unemployment numbers and help the state regain momentum in education.

Read the full story and see a photo gallery from the debate -- the first of a trio that continues tonight. Click here to see how the pundits rated the night. And check to see if the candidates were telling the truth about the state's economy, tracking and federal transportation money in the N&O's Fact Check.

In other headlines:

--Columnist Barry Saunders: Until the Democratic Party tells everything there is to tell about the harassment allegations and the settlement, many others may get the same impression – that Raleigh is a Democratic den of iniquity. To borrow a phrase from Jay Parmley, let me be clear: What David Parker needs to do is tell why he settled with the alleged victim, why he kept quiet about it and how much money the ex-staffer was paid. Full column here.

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