As a North Carolina congressman, Mel Watt has tried to arm struggling homeowners with a legal “sledgehammer” against lenders and expand the ranks of people eligible to cut their mortgage principal.

Those positions help explain why President Barack Obama has nominated Watt, a Democrat, to oversee Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage companies seized by the government in 2008. They also underscore Watt’s uphill climb to gain support from the Senate Republicans he’ll need to win confirmation.

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