* It was Republican Sen. Richard Burr versus the Democratic congressman Tuesday night as they fielded questions on North Carolina television in a lively discussion about national health care.
Burr, though agreeing that the current health-care system is "unsustainable," said the proposals by President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats would cost too much, raise too many taxes and impose too many regulations.
"I don't want the government handling any more," Burr said in agreeing with one caller who said the federal government had mismanaged too many programs in the past.
But Burr of Winston-Salem was a lonely voice on the one-hour program broadcast on UNC-TV, as Democratic congressmen David Price of Chapel Hill, Brad Miller of Raleigh, Bob Etheridge of Lillington and Mel Watt of Charlotte voiced strong support for bills in Congress to make health insurance more affordable to more people.
After one caller said health changes were being pushed down the throats of an unwilling public, Watt remarked: "If he thinks the majority of the public doesn't support some kind of health reform, I don't know what nation he is living in."
The UNC-TV broadcast was the last of a busy day of health-care events in North Carolina on Tuesday. At lunchtime in Cary, the John Locke Foundation, a Raleigh-based conservative think tank, held a health-care discussion -- one in a series across the state.
Conservatives at the session suggested that the nation explore alternatives to fixing the health-care system, such as expanding health savings accounts.
Later Tuesday, about 200 people gathered in Raleigh for a rally against Obama's health-reform efforts, billed as a "Constitutional Town Hall" meeting. The event featured impersonators of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Paine and cardboard cutouts of leading North Carolina elected officials who were invited but did not attend. (N&O)
* Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, the last surviving brother in a political dynasty and one of the most influential senators in history, died Tuesday night at his home on Cape Cod after a year-long struggle with brain cancer. He was 77. (AP)