Americans for Prosperity isn't the only group touring the state this week talking about the Republican-drawn budget, as the educating funding battle hits the streets.
A "Truth Squad" car sponsored by Progress NC, a liberal advocacy group, is following AFP's billboard truck around the state shouting "Real Solutions or Real Distortions?" along with numbers about the cuts to education. (The video above was shot Tuesday in downtown Winston-Salem).
The conservative group's tour apparently isn't generating much attention. The billboard truck is stopping at newspaper offices along the way -- such as the High Point Enterprise and Greensboro's News & Record -- but walking away without a story. The Lexington paper was one of the few to write something -- and the "truth squaders" got their side in the story, too.
It's essentially a publicity tour that pits two former TV news reporters turned advocates against each other: Dallas Woodhouse, AFP state director, and Gerrick Brenner, executive director at Progress NC.
"You've got to be creative and keep it interesting," Brenner said. "From my time in TV news, I know giving people the facts is not enough."
Brenner wrote a blog post disparaging the tour as a vanity parade. He said his group's Toyota Rav4 (with magnet "Truth Squad" signs) is equipped with a PA system. So when they are stuck in traffic, he shouts rebuttals to the AFP billboard truck. "Obviously we don't agree on how he's parsing the truth," Brenner said.
For his part, Woodhouse says the tour is making the Republican voice heard. "The overall effort we're very pleased with," he said, noting the 50,000-plus views of the groups recent TV ad.
He didn't mind being tailed across the state for a day ("It's all good.) And he even took the tour off course to stop at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation "so Progress NC could ask for more money." (Woodhouse criticizes the foundation for funding liberal causes.)
Asked about the idea that the state's education funding debate has devolved into a street shouting match, Woodhouse said "one man's silly is another way to reach people."