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Poverty gaffe causes a stir, but may prove undamaging for Rep. Cleveland (video)

Rep. George Cleveland continues to draw criticism for his assertion Thursday that there was “no extreme poverty” in North Carolina.

Just hours after he made the remarks in a legislative committee hearing to limit Pre-K eligibility, the
Onslow County Republican landed on the ‘Worst Persons’ list on Countdown with Keith Olbermann.

State NAACP President Rev. William Barber joined in calling Cleveland’s “erroneous contention”  another reminder of the “disdain for the poor” in North Carolina.

In fact, in Rep. Cleveland’s own home county, 13.8% of the residents are living below the poverty level, based on the latest Census data. More than 10,000 children in that county receive free or reduced lunch, according to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. And just over ten percent (10.1%) of the children in Onslow County are members of families living in deep poverty – defined as earning less than $11,157 a year for a family of four.

But even after landing in the national spotlight, it’s unlikely he’s worried about the negative attention.

When the filing period closed for public office at noon on Wednesday, the incumbent Republican from Jacksonville had no partisan competition for District 14, returning Cleveland to serve his constituents for a fifth term in the state House.

To hear the remarks by Rep. Cleveland that generated such a stir, click below:

8 Comments


  1. Julie

    March 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I am thinking there is a big opportunity for a write in candidate…

  2. Frank Burns

    March 2, 2012 at 5:46 am

    What is the definition of “extreme poverty”? When I traveled through Ecuador and into Mexico, cetainly their poverty was worse than ours. Maybe that’s what he was referring to.

  3. david esmay

    March 2, 2012 at 9:45 am

    What is extreme Frank, aside from your comments and those of the ass known as George Cleveland, is the fact that in a country such as ours poverty exists at all, and not just poor people, but people who live on the same levels as those in third world countries. It is a national disgrace, just as conservative rhetoric is.

  4. Ricky Leung

    March 2, 2012 at 10:01 am

    Perhaps that’s what he was referring to, but in context of the U.S.,—and it is in the U.S. that he is serving as a public official—”extreme poverty” or “deep poverty”, once again, is defined as earning less than 50% of the poverty threshold, or $11,157 a year for a family of four.

  5. Alex

    March 2, 2012 at 10:09 am

    No david, the real disgrace is a goofy liberal who somehow thinks the government can eradicate poverty by spending trillions of dollars in taking care of people from the cradle to the grave. We’ve tried it for many years, and it hasn’t put a dent in the problem. If a person wants to do nothing and live in an area where there are no jobs, don’t expect the rest of us to give him a comfortable lifestyle for the rest of his life.Once you establish the dependence on a government check, that person will be poor forever.

  6. Jack

    March 2, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Public policy and local politics creates poverty. Rep. Cleveland is in a position to correct the situation. No one is born wanting to live in poverty.

  7. gregflynn

    March 2, 2012 at 11:07 am

    When a 4 year old gets up and moves to an area with jobs we send out an Amber Alert. I understand you might have given up facts for Lent, but enough with the hyperbole. The context of this discussion is Pre-K education for poor children to provide a better foundation for financial independence and productive activity later in life. That’s something that most of the committee agreed on. There are children in Wake County who are homeless, or live in cars. I wouldn’t describe that as a “comfortable lifestyle”. It’s not about geography, or mobility, or dependency. Half the people who are eligible for food stamps don’t participate. Just today a NCGA staffer said poor people don’t have to go hungry because they can get food stamps. So the right gets to criticize poor people both for accepting food stamps, and for not accepting food stamps.

  8. […] a report by the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina and, quite unlike George Cleveland, they found all kinds of hunger and want: In fact, in Rep. Cleveland’s own home county, 13.8% of the residents are living below the […]

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