Thursday September 6, 2012

He’s gone to Carolina to help shore up President Obama’s re-election campaign at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

James Taylor, whose family moved to Chapel Hill, N.C., from Boston when he was 3 so his physician father, Ike, could take a position with the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, is slated to perform a four-song set during this evening’s final convention hours, prior to speeches by Vice President Joe Biden and Obama.

However, because of threatening weather, the convention finale was moved from the 73,000-seat Bank of America stadium to the 15,000-seat convention arena. Convention organizers had reported that 65,000 credentials for the stadium had been distributed.

"The weather has been so bad with thunderstorms and lightning every day," said Kim Taylor in an email message. "They can’t take a chance on the safety of the audience." She is on hand to perform with her husband; the set includes the Tar Heel state’s unofficial anthem, "Carolina on My Mind."

James Taylor, the singer-songwriter whose home and studio are in the hilltown of Washington, performed for nearly an hour ahead of Michelle Obama’s campaign speech to donors at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield on Aug. 3. The Taylors also attended a $20,000 a plate fundraising dinner at the Richmond home of Gov. Deval Patrick that evening.

Over the remaining two months of the campaign, the couple will criss-cross the country, appearing during at least 12 events in the Midwest, on the West Coast, in Texas and in Florida, said Kim Taylor.

Addressing the "Are you better off now than four years ago?" question posed by Republicans, James Taylor said in an email message to The Eagle: "The fact is President Obama accomplished a re markable amount in the last four years. After eight years of Bush-Cheney, the inauguration of Barack Obama was such a moment of redemption for me."

As Taylor put it, "I personally went from feeling deeply ambivalent about my country to feeling fiercely proud of it." He also noted a "huge difference" between Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.

Nevertheless, Taylor said, "the problems facing this country are so complex and deeply entrenched and the opposition in Congress is so unremittingly uncooperative, that I can understand how some Amer icans have lost patience and perspective."

But the singer described himself as "baffled when I hear that people are disappointed with President Obama. I’ve been watching national politics since Eisenhower-Stevenson in 1956, and Barack and Michelle Obama are my favorite Presi dent and first lady ... bar none."

Taylor cited the article in the current Rolling Stone magazine about the impact of Romney and Bain Capital on the demise of KB Toys, which was liquidated nine years after it was purchased by Bain, and shuttered its Pittsfield world headquarters in February 2009, throwing some 300 people out of work. "It’s heart-breaking and so close to home," Taylor stated.

According to Taylor, a self-described "unabashed liberal," Obama "may not be that good at blowing his own horn. This president represents the best instincts of America and Americans."

Taylor has been spending the week in Charlotte and performed on Monday at Car olinaFest, a musical curtain-raiser for the Democratic
convention.

Taylor has been spending the week in Charlotte and performed on Monday at Car olinaFest, a musical curtain-raiser for the Democratic
convention.

He has cited President Obama’s health care reform act as one of his greatest accomplishments. Taylor’s father was a lifelong advocate for access to quality health care for everyone.

The Taylor clan moved from Boston to Chapel Hill in 1951 so the family patriarch could help develop the UNC Chapel Hill medical school into a four-year program. Dr. Ike Taylor, who had been chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospi tal in Boston, was a North Carolina native who became dean of the UNC medical school in 1964 and died in 1996. 

The Affordable Care Act would have meant a great deal to his father, said Taylor. "He’d find it a realization of his dreams and hopes. If he could be alive now, my father would be working overtime to see that Barack Obama gets his second term."

"Often politics comes down to a gut reaction but it surprises me to see people react with such negativity to someone I hold in such unparalleled high regard," said Taylor. "I love this president and the nation that elected him. Let’s give him a chance to do his job."

Information from the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer was included in this report.