Undecided Superdelegate Weighs Candidates

Democratic Congressman Brad Miller of North Carolina is known these days as an undecided superdelegate. Miller talks with Melissa Block about the decisions he has to weigh before choosing which candidate to support.

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Now, to one of those prized, uncommitted superdelegates. Brad Miller is a Congressman from North Carolina. Congressman Miller, thanks so much be with us.

Representative BRAD MILLER (Democrat, North Carolina): Thank you for inviting me.

BLOCK: And you must feel like a wanted man right now. I bet you're getting a lot of lobbying.

Rep. MILLER: I am. I'm not - this is not why I ran for Congress, so I could be a superdelegate, but yes. I'm getting a lot of attention from a lot of folks.

BLOCK: What kind of attention are you getting, exactly?

Rep. MILLER: Certainly, I've had the chance to talk to both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. And I've talked to some of my colleagues in Congress. Both campaigns, not surprisingly, have an effort to identify supporters who are friends with the various delegates and keeping those folks in contact.

BLOCK: Now, do you figure you'll make up your mind right after the North Carolina primary in two weeks?

Rep. MILLER: There's a pretty good chance of that. I do want to see how to the two candidates campaign in North Carolina. I want to see them talking to North Carolina voters about those voter's concerns and see how North Carolina voters vote.

BLOCK: You know, the argument coming from the Clinton campaign looking at the results from Pennsylvania last night are think about electability. Hillary Clinton is winning by huge margins the votes that have gotten Democrats elected to the White House. They're winning huge among white men, blue-collar working voters, among Catholics. Is that a factor for you? Do you think - not just beyond North Carolina, but to the country as a whole, and what might shape up in November?

Rep. MILLER: Certainly, I'm paying attention to what kind of candidates both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama are, but I take every one's votes to count the same, and not looking at some voter's votes as more important than others. I think both Senator Obama and Senator Clinton have done a better job of speaking to particular constituencies in the Democratic Party, and I think both of them should pay attention to that and think about how they can address the concerns of those voters better.

BLOCK: Do you share any of those concerns about Barack Obama's ultimate electability against John McCain?

Rep. MILLER: I think we can over think electability. You know, every time I have thought I had a general election worked out well in advance, I'm proved to be wrong. I think I'm going to make the decision, I think voters are making the decision based more upon what kind of president they think the candidates will be, and how well those candidates are addressing the concerns of the voters. I think that Senator Obama does need to address economic concerns of working and middle class Americans.

BLOCK: You know, it sounds like you're saying he may not have paid enough attention to that up till now.

Rep. MILLER: I think is paying attention to those issues. I have talked to him about it. He is addressing those issues, and I think he needs to continue to do that.

BLOCK: You know, one thing that jumped out at the exit polls out of Pennsylvania yesterday had to do with the question of race. Sixteen percent of white voters, sixteen percent said race was a factor in their votes. And of those 56 percent said they would support Barack Obama in a general election. Twenty-seven percent said they'd vote for John McCain, fifteen percent said they'd stay home. Does that trouble you?

Rep. MILLER: Well, of course it troubles me. That makes me wonder if we've made as much progress as I've hoped that we have made. But that does also bring back the question about electability. If what we're saying with electability either directly or indirectly is that Senator Obama cannot win because he is African-American, I can't explain that to the African-Americans who live in my district and I can't explain that to myself as a reason not to support him.

BLOCK: Mm-hmm. Are you hearing a different message from your district?

Rep. MILLER: There are folks all over the place in my district. Within my own family, it breaks out almost the way the national polling does. My 93-year-old mother is for Hillary Clinton. And all my nephews and nieces are for Barack Obama.

BLOCK: Hm. And you're somewhere in the middle.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Rep. MILLER: I am paying attention to how voters generally are receiving the two candidates, how well the candidates are addressing what those voters are concerned about, and I'm going to get a lot of education from North Carolina voters in less than two weeks.

BLOCK: Well, Congressman Miller, it's good to talk to you. Thanks so much.

Rep. MILLER: Thank you.

BLOCK: Democratic Congressman Brad Miller from North Carolina.

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