One on One: ‘Talking about Politics’ is back

Published 8:29 am Tuesday, July 4, 2023

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By D.G. Martin

Are you tired of the mean-spirited sniping that passes for political discourse these days?

If you are, there is good news. “Talking About Politics,” after a break of a couple of years, is back.

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Two experienced commentators – one Democrat and the other a Republican – have resurrected their popular blog in which they exchange views on current politics. These two first met head-on back in 1984 when Gary Pearce was working for Democrat Jim Hunt in his campaign to defeat Jesse Helms, who was running for reelection to the Senate. Carter Wrenn was working for Helms.

Back then Wrenn and Pearce fought each other head-to-head.

Today, their blog “Talking About Politics” is a joint effort and an opportunity for them to broadcast their respective political ideas and, from time to time, to correct each other. Their respective views are aired politely and respectfully.

I talked to them the other day about their ideas of what issues will be important in the 2024 elections.

According to Pearce, abortion will be a dominating issue. He noted that “traditionally in North Carolina, Democrats have been reluctant and wary of jumping on that issue. In the Bible Belt, people are uncomfortable talking about things like abortion. But with the Supreme Court last year, knocking down Roe v Wade, and with the legislature passing, not just a 12-week ban, but [there are also] 47 pages of provisions that go farther than that.”

He noted that State Sen. Rachel Hunt, daughter of former Gov. Jim Hunt and candidate for lieutenant governor, has already staked out the issue. “I’m running for lieutenant governor because the Republican plan isn’t this year’s 12-week abortion ban; it’s next year’s total abortion ban,” she said. “This campaign will be loud and unapologetic in our opposition to GOP extremism.”

Wrenn acknowledged that abortion creates problems for some Republican candidates running in competitive districts.

“Last year, a friend of mine, a Republican consultant, brought a candidate running for state senate to see me. He said, ‘we’re being told by the state senate committee just to ignore abortion. It doesn’t matter. And it’s the economy that matters.’”

Wrenn told the candidate and the consultant, “I don’t think that’s going to work out, because I think you’re going to have to go out there and defend your stand on abortion.”

Wrenn continued, “What Republicans want to do to limit abortions is not popular. They’re going to have to fight a fight to convince people what they’re doing is reasonable. And they [the candidate and consultant] didn’t do anything. They ignored it and they got beat. It is a challenge to Republicans because what they say they believe is not popular with swing voters. And what they have to do is go out there and convince voters.”

Wrenn explained, “what they have to do is show people why what they want to do makes some sense. If they don’t do that, then they lose. In other words, if public opinion’s going in one direction and you’re going in another, your choice is to try to change public opinion or to act like a politician and change your position. And I think the mistake Republicans are making on abortion is they’re not trying to change public opinion. They may not be able to; they may lose that fight, but I don’t think they can dodge it.”

Wrenn and Pearce also talked about Donald Trump and Joe Biden and the strengths and weaknesses of Republican candidates for governor, Dale Folwell and Mark Robinson.

Wrenn also announced that he has been working on a memoir. There is no schedule for its release, but those interested in North Carolina politics will be waiting for it to hit the shelves.

In the meantime, we can keep up with the views of Wrenn and Pearce at their website,

D.G. Martin, a retired lawyer, served as UNC-System’s vice president for public affairs and hosted PBS-NC’s North Carolina Bookwatch. This column has appeared every week since 1985.