"I am the true conservative in this governor's race," Smith said, garnering an ovation from the crowd.
That's a line from a story in the New Bern Sun Journal on Wednesday, and it's the story of both the promise and the failure of Fred Smith's campaign for Governor.
The race for the Republican nomination has become a two person contest between Smith and Pat McCrory. And Smith has a lot of material to back up the claim that he's the true conservative in the race when he compares himself to McCrory.
The problem is that while hundreds of thousands of likely Republican primary voters across the state heard McCrory tell them he'll hold the line on taxes during commercials of the UNC-Louisville game last weekend, Smith's still only really spreading his message at comparatively small campaign events with Lee Greenwood.
I figured when the barbecue tour ended, Smith would finally start running a real company with significant media buys both touting his conservative credentials and tearing down McCrory as a liberal. Instead it appears he's moved on to the next marginally effective grassroots tour around North Carolina.
Smith's original strategy was great in a race against Bob Orr and Bill Graham. But when McCrory entered the race the whole landscape changed. Smith's game plan hasn't changed with it. And that may just allow McCrory to walk off with the nomination without a runoff.