Reaction continues to come in a day after Gov. Bev Perdue suggested to the Cary Rotary Club that congressional elections should be suspended for two years so that members of Congress could focus on solving the nation’s problems without suffering immediate political consequences.
During her talk on Tuesday, she urged Washington officials to get over their partisan bickering.
According to an audio recording on the Raleigh News & Observer’s web site, Perdue said: “I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years. Just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make. Just let them help this country recover. I really hope someone can agree with me on that.”
She went on to say that politicians in Raleigh do a better job at working together across party lines, even though she admitted politics were a bit more contentious now.
For two days, reports of Perdue’s comments were listed along the top of the Drudge Report. It didn’t escape comment from conservative talk shows.
Perdue herself commented on her own comment to reporters covering her at a conference in Thomasville on Wednesday. “My point was one of sarcasm,” Perdue told the Greensboro News & Record. “We really just need to encourage our leaders who are elected to work together and solve America’s problems.” She went on to suggest that her comment was taken out of context and wondered why anyone would take her comment seriously.
Tuesday afternoon, Perdue’s press office said the governor was using hyperbole.
“Come on,” said Chris Mackey, Perdue’s press secretary. “Gov. Perdue was obviously using hyperbole to highlight what we can all agree is a serious problem: Washington politicians who focus on their own election instead of what’s best for the people they serve.”
Republicans reacted quickly to Perdue’s suggestion.
“It’s one thing for Gov. Perdue to suggest that we should suspend congressional elections as a very odd approach to getting the economy moving,” said former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory on Wednesday McCrory was Perdue’s GOP opponent in 2008 and is expected to challenge her again in 2012. “It’s an entirely different thing for the governor to get her staff to cover up her blatant mistake by saying she was just joking.”
McCrory said that it’s obvious that Perdue wasn’t joking and that she needs to admit she made a mistake and apologize for it.
On Tuesday, McCrory called into question Perdue’s “inability to work with the Legislature, regardless if controlled by Democrats or Republicans.”
Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, added some levity to his response. “In light of Gov. Perdue’s support for suspending congressional elections, I want to state clearly, on the record, that I do NOT support suspending our next gubernatorial election,” Berger said.
The N.C. Republican Party questioned Perdue’s assertion that she wasn’t serious.
“Listen to the governor’s words, she wasn’t joking at all,” said Rob Lockwood, a spokesman for the state GOP. “The congressional Democrats are wildly unpopular in North Carolina, so she may have been trying to invent a solution to save their jobs and from public accountability.”