AF: I feel like this event helped us recapture a bit of the magic of our city, which is this idea that we can do whatever we put our minds to. That was the same spirit that got us in the NBA in the 1980s and the NFL in the 1990s, and it’s the same kind of hubris that this community used to fuel the growth of our financial sector.
I like our city when we have a bit of an edge, when we’re reaching for something beyond reach in some respects. Our city thrives when we’re told we can’t do something. We actually use it as motivation. We’ve found our center again, a sense that this city is still on the uptick, a sense that the city can still choose its path forward. All we have to do is work together to get there.
TR: How do you think others judged it?
AF: I spoke to the president briefly this morning, and he and the first family were overwhelmed by the hospitality Charlotte and North Carolina showed them. They knew this convention was a big lift, and they expressed their appreciation for our willingness to go after it and do a great job with it.
People walked away with the sense that we are not a nondescript Anytown USA place, that we do have a unique character and quality. Some of that has come through the friendliness of our people; some of it has come through the fact that we didn’t have major hiccups with the management of this event …
I don’t doubt that they [Democrats and the Obama campaign] felt great about Charlotte as a choice. For all of the chirping by the national media about Charlotte coming into the convention, it exceeded the wildest expectations of most of the media people I came into contact with and, I would venture to say, delegates and others.
TR: What’s next for you, and what are your short- and long-term aspirations?
AF: It’s a good question. But the truth is, this week for me has been much more about leaving the right impression of our city on people’s minds. The best way I can talk about our city is to talk about my own experience.
My ambitions to go into politics in the first place were always guided by a desire to see this city do well and to be even more true to its essential spirit. This event has given us a rediscovered confidence in our ability to tackle things, so I want to keep tackling things.
TR: You have said that the part of this convention you were most looking forward to was seeing your 95-year-old grandmother watching the president’s speech, knowing all she had to put up with in her life to make it possible for you to become mayor. What did she think?