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Morning Memo: The recasting of Gov. McCrory? Unraveling his shifts

PAT McCRORY LINKS MEDICAID REFORMS TO TEACHER PAY HIKES -- Governor pledges big announcement in coming months: Speaking at the Cary Chamber of Commerce's annual banquet Wednesday evening, Gov. Pat McCrory promised "controversial" proposals to change the state's Medicaid system. Overruns in Medicaid costs are a huge burden on the state and have drained funding for education, he said.

Citing issues with federal regulations, "a lack of waivers from the feds, and frankly, some of the politics within Raleigh here," McCrory said he wanted to change the state's implementation of the federal health program for people with low income.

"I'm going to have to bring up some fairly controversial proposals to change Medicaid, or we're going to continue to have some very, very serious issues here in North Carolina," McCrory told the crowd. "That's coming in the next three, four months. I'll probably introduce them while the legislature's out of town, between now and May," he said, drawing laughs. Changes to Medicaid, he said are " the way we're going to get raises to the teachers."

***McCrory appears to be charting a new course, but the administration is backtracking on a different education announcement. Read it all below in today's Dome Morning Memo***

Morning Roundup: Young voters may swing election, early voting starts in N.C.

A wave of excited young voters helped lift President Barack Obama to a narrow victory in the state four years ago, but flagging support is now putting a repeat win in jeopardy. If Obama does end up losing North Carolina this election, it could be because of voters like Jennifer Bachelor.

An Elon University graduate, Bachelor cast her first vote for president for Obama, but she has agreed with his positions less and less as his term wore on. Her assessment of the president’s performance is so negative that the Raleigh resident watched the vice-presidential debate last week with other staunch backers of the Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan ticket at a GOP-sponsored party. Full story here.

More political headlines:

--Early voting starts today in North Carolina -- meaning everyday through Nov. 3 is election day. Find Triangle area voting sites here.

--Walter Dalton leveled a new ethics charge at GOP rival Pat McCrory in the debate. Read a fact-check here.

Romney's post-debate TV ad promises 12 million jobs

Fresh from the debate, Mitt Romney is airing a new TV ad in North Carolina that touts his jobs plan.

Romney promises to create 12 million jobs with drilling, tax cuts and other proposals. But fact checkers find the pledge is not as impressive as it sounds.

Morning Roundup: The Michelle Obama factor on the N.C. campaign trail

When First Lady Michelle Obama takes the podium, she is many things – character witness for her husband, defender of the anemic economic recovery, and exhorter-in-chief for the Democratic faithful.

Which is why Michelle Obama has become one of the most traveled political spouses in recent memory. Her campaign stops Wednesday at N.C. Central University in Durham and East Carolina University in Greenville were part of her 11th visit to North Carolina since 2009, according to the campaign. There is little mystery why. Read the full story here and see a photo gallery.

More political headlines:

--Check out these fact-checks on the new DGA-funded ad "Laundry" attacking Pat McCrory and the RGA ad "Year after year" hitting Walter Dalton.

Fact Check: RGA ad hitting Dalton on taxes misses its mark

This is the second ad that tries to closely link Democratic candidate Walter Dalton to Gov. Bev Perdue, one of the most unpopular governors in the country according to polls. It repeats many claims in the RGA’s earlier ad and likewise doesn't get it all right. Click here for the full fact check.

Morning Roundup: N.C. lawmakers plan speedy start to session

Legislators get back to making laws Wednesday with a running start on some of the state’s most controversial issues.

House budget writers are preparing to present their spending plans to the public after weeks of behind-the-scenes work. Onshore drilling for natural gas will move quickly off the blocks and will face votes over the first few weeks. A plan to close a Medicaid budget shortfall also will see early action. A Senate committee on Wednesday will debate a bill allowing live poker, blackjack and other table games at the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians’ casino. Get a legislative preview here.

More political headlines:

--The end of the John Edwards trial came into view Tuesday as his defense team told the judge that only three potential defense witnesses remain — the defendant, his daughter, Cate, and his former mistress, Rielle Hunter. Defense Attorney Abbe Lowell announced the list while informing Judge Catherine Eagles at the end of Tuesday’s proceedings that the defense may rest on Wednesday or Thursday.

--Republicans launched the first television commercial Tuesday in the November governor’s race, an attack ad that tries to link Democratic nominee Walter Dalton to the unpopular Gov. Bev Perdue. But the 30-second spot’s major points don’t fully meet the truth test. Here’s a claim-by-claim fact check.

The campaign season is getting dirty, making political truth difficult

The Columbia Journalism Review examines how the election season is quickly getting dirty in North Carolina -- particularly in the 9th Congressional District race featuring Republicans Robert Pittenger and Jim Pendergraph.

The piece by Andria Krewson also gives the N&O's new fact-checking blog a little shout out as it discusses how the media should handle political claims that blur the truth. Here's her conclusion: "And The News & Observer’s fact-check, and the jobs claim box at the (Charlotte) Observer, signal strong work ahead on behalf of North Carolina voters. We’re going to need it, considering the ad war has hardly begun."

Read the full CJR Swing States Project piece here.

N&O launches new fact-checking blog for 2012 election year

Dome is proud to announce the launch of a new fact-checking blog today. The News & Observer's political team has long tracked whether North Carolina politicians rhetoric matched reality. But now it will have a home for the 2012 election cycle.

You'll find two new fact checks from the Democratic gubernatorial debates at the site. See whether Bob Etheridge really improved test scores as state superintendent and whether Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton accurately depicted the number of jobs the state created through an incentives program. Also, find previous fact checks on the debate, Gov. Bev Perdue, political advertising and the legislature.

We welcome feedback from readers. If you see a campaign advertisement or political speech that needs fact checking, send us an email at capitol@newsobserver.com. And check back regularly for posts.

Americans for Prosperity announce road tour, launch robobcalls

UPDATED: Americans for Prosperity is adding a road tour to its campaign supporting the state budget.

The tour starts in Burlington on Monday and ends in Rockingham on Wednesday. AFP has been running television and radio ads emphasizing GOP talking points. The tour features an N.C. Real Solutions mobile billboard, which publicizes the pro-budget campaign slogan and website.

AFP's efforts also will include a robocall to homes in the areas where its TV ad aired last month. The call features much of the same claims as the TV ad -- see fact checks here and here.

--Lynn Bonner and John Frank


N&O Fact Check: Is North Carolina 49th in per pupil spending?

Claim: “The terrible thing we’ve all seen this time around is the Republicans taking us to 49th nationally in education spending.”

Speaker: Bill Faison, Democratic candidate for governor, at the N.C. Association of School Administrators forum in Raleigh

Context: On the campaign trail, Faison is quick to say the current state budget authored by the Republican legislative leadership hurt education funding – ranking North Carolina 49th in the nation in per pupil spending.

Is he right? Read below for the answer. And click here for more on the Democratic candidates' education records.

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