Dwight Story shares stage with Coble

A 1984 campaign sign links the two men
Nov. 13, 2013 @ 10:25 AM

During Rep. Howard Coble’s press conference last Thursday, when he announced he would not be seeking a 16th term next year, only one person shared the stage with him.

As Coble, speaking at the Guilford County Republican headquarters, was finishing his prepared text, he asked, “Where is Dwight Story?”

The Thomasville resident, who lives at Piedmont Crossing, quickly made his presence known, and Coble called him up to the stage. As Story stepped up, carrying a sign with Coble’s name on it, the congressman said, “Dwight, explain to these good people what you have.”

The Coble sign that Story carried was from the congressman’s initial campaign for the Sixth District seat in1984.

“I had Howard sign it in 1984 and he has signed it again each time he won,” Story said, generating applause from the audience. He then said the sign would be part of an exhibit on Coble at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

As Story was leaving the stage, Coble told him that he would be seeing him at the High Point Christmas parade.

“Couldn’t have it without you, Dwight,” he said.

Coble, 82, has chosen not to run for re-election because of health problems.

“Mentally and emotionally I am capable and reliable (to continue in Congress), but vulnerable physically because of back problems and skin cancer,” said Coble, who disclosed he was flying to Bethesda, Md., for an evaluation of recent skin-cancer surgery.

When asked if he was endorsing anyone to succeed him, Coble answered, “For the time being I’m going to hold off on that and see who all surfaces.”

To an inquiry of what he is proudest of in his congressional career, Coble gave two answers.

“When you read about patents, trademarks and copyrights, you fall asleep, but it’s vitally important,” Coble said. “We’ve done some important reform efforts in those classifications of intellectual property.”

The other major area of pride for Coble is accessibility.

“Constituents demand accessibility,” Coble said. “I’ve ridden in over 200 Christmas parades and been to about as many Eagle Scout Courts of Honor. That doesn’t make me any better than the guy who doesn’t ride the Christmas parades, but it at least presents accessibility.”

When asked if he had any regrets,” Coble immediately replied, “I regret that I didn’t take my congressional pension.” As the explosion of laughter burst throughout the room, he added, “That’s clearly the most stupid financial decision I’ve ever made.”

Once again, Coble’s answer was two-fold.

“I was not pleased with my vote to dispatch troops to Iraq, because we had no post-entrance strategy,” he said. “There are people in Congress today, including some Republicans, who think that George W. Bush should be in jail. I don’t believe that. They insist that he deceived us, and I adamantly defend him to that end. Someone may have lied to him, but I don’t think he lied to us.”

Coble reminded the audience that he still has over a year left in office. As chairman of the Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, he has work planned on copyright reform and more trademark-law activity. As the fourth-ranking member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Coble is aware that a $109 billion transportation bill will expire next September and expects to be involved in follow-up legislation on that end.

A Guilford county native, Coble has represented Thomasville longer than any other member of the House. At the completion of his term, he will have served 30 years in Congress, tying him with the two senators with the longest tenures from North Carolina; Furnifold Simmons (1901-31) and Jesse Helms (1973-2003).

As far as retirement plans, Coble said, “I’ll keep an ear to the ground. I have nothing specifically planned.”