From today's online edition of the Southern Pines (NC) Pilot:
A video of Rep. Bob Etheridge physically confronting a college student in Washington brought back unpleasant memories for one former Moore County resident.
Brandon Leslie, who moved away seven years ago and is now an attorney in Oxford, Miss., said he had an encounter with the now seven-term Democratic congressman from Lillington almost 14 years ago.
In the fall of 1996, when Leslie was a senior at Pinecrest High School, he said he met Etheridge at a Pinecrest football game. Etheridge - then the state superintendent of public instruction - was challenging incumbent Republican David Funderburk for his congressional seat. At the time, Moore County was part of the 2nd District, which Etheridge now represents.
Leslie said he introduced himself to Etheridge and asked him about his stance on a particular education program. He said Etheridge didn't answer his question, so he pressed him two more times.
"And that's when he grabbed me by the shoulders, he shook me, and I'll never forget it, he said, 'Son, you need to learn to respect your elders,'" he said by phone on Wednesday. "I was just so taken aback, I think my jaw just dropped, and he walked off."
Leslie said he was angrier about Etheridge's attitude and "patronizing" tone than the physical contact.
"It wasn't to hurt me, it wasn't to harm me," he says. "It was that he was irritated and wanted to get my attention."
Leslie said the incident caused somewhat of a firestorm at the time, and he was contacted by a few newspapers, but no stories ever appeared.
That hasn't been the case with the latest incident involving Etheridge. The video - which shows an agitated Etheridge grabbing and holding an unidentified young man by the wrist, neck and shoulders after he approached Etheridge with a video camera and asked him if he "fully supported" the president's agenda - quickly went viral and became the talk of the political universe. Etheridge has since apologized for his behavior.
Leslie, a self-described Democrat who "supports the Obama agenda," said watching the video was "almost like looking in a mirror."
"He doesn't like to be pressed," he said. "He's kind of a bully."
I know Brandon. Haven't seen him in a while. We went to high school together for a little bit, though I wasn't present for the above-described incident because I had already graduated. I never heard about this story, but knowing Brandon, I have no reason to doubt him. He lives in Mississippi now, so he has no dog in this fight. It looks like Rep. Etheridge needs some anger management counseling. Hopefully he'll have time for that after Renee Ellmers defeats him this November.