By Scott Bigelow
U.S. Representative Mike McIntyre (right) with WNCP-TV host Mike DeCinti
Seventh District U.S. Representative Mike McIntyre told WNCP-TV his first priority is the economic development of his district, but issues in Iraq also concern him.
Rep. McIntyre voiced concern over the Bush administration's plan to turn over authority to a provisional government in Iraq on June 30. He made the comments during a taping of a 30-minute program at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke on April 26.
The interview took place just minutes after the filing period opened for candidates, and. Rep. McIntyre assured WNCP-TV host Mike DeCinti that he would be in the race for a 5th term.
"I will officially file tomorrow at the State Board of Elections in Raleigh," said the Congressman from Lumberton.
Rep. McIntyre, who supported the war, said he and fellow members of the House Armed Services Committee are concerned that the transition of power is moving too swiftly in Iraq.
"The plan is more important than the June 30th date," he said. "Police training is inadequate to maintain order and stability in the country."
"We're not ready," Rep. McIntyre said. "We've invested too much time and energy in Iraq to fail now."
The "Butcher of Bagdad" is gone, Rep. McIntyre said, but Iraq should not become a breeding ground for terrorists again.
Rep. McIntyre promised there would be an interesting summer of politics as the presidential election nears, but he declined to involve himself in the race for the Oval Office.
"I will have no involvement in other people's campaigns," he said. "Number one on my agenda is representing the people of my district."
"The number one issue is jobs," Rep. McIntyre said. "These are tough times for textiles and tobacco."
The fourth-term congressman pitched several parts of his 20-point plan for the revitalization of the region's beleaguered economy.
A buyout of federal tobacco allotments is high on Rep. McIntyre's list, but he said it would be a tough battle because "anything with tobacco attached is a tough sell."
Lumbee Recognition is also high on his list because it is a matter of "dignity and fairness," and it would uplift the economy of the entire region.
"We believe strongly that the Lumbee should be recognized on their merits," he said. "Sen. Dole, to her credit, recognized there was a problem and pitched in."
The casino gambling issue is a "smokescreen to deny the validity and legitimacy of the real recognition issue," Rep. McIntyre said.
The congressman said he would seek to unite depressed areas in seven states and create a regional economic commission similar to the Appalachian commission.
One piece of good news, Rep. McIntyre said, is funding for improvements to U.S. 74 in Robeson County. He said a recent $5 million authorization would pay for construction to begin within six months.
Rep. McIntyre received a luncheon briefing on progress at UNCP from Chancellor Allen C. Meadors.
"A lot of the success at UNC Pembroke is due to the great leadership of Chancellor Meadors," Rep. McIntyre said. "I am proud of him, and I am proud of UNCP."
"UNC Pembroke is setting the pace for UNC universities," he said. "It is thrilling to see the explosion of growth on campus. The number of students coming to the University is phenomenal."
"When I arrived in Washington, the first earmarked bill I sent through was $950,000 for the Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development," Rep. McIntyre said.