Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper met earlier this week for the final gubernatorial debate, and many observers are saying that McCrory handled himself with confidence, in contrast with Cooper and Libertarian candidate Lon Cecil.
During the debate, moderated by WRAL reporters David Crabtree and Laura Leslie, McCrory and Cooper came at each other over topics from coal ash to HB 2 to taxes, but especially over Cooper’s comments before Hurricane Matthew that the “rainy day fund” was too large. McCrory has been hitting Cooper over his comments as the money in the fund is being used for recovery efforts in the wake of the storm.
At the debate Cooper seemed to walk back his comments, saying that he has always supported a “strong rainy day fund,” yet he bit at McCrory about $500,000 that was moved from the fund to defend the state in lawsuits.
Conservatives have criticized Cooper himself for not defending the state in cases such as the Defense of Marriage Act or HB 2.
In response to Cooper’s comment, McCrory said he is thankful that there was a governor in office that valued the rainy day fund and looked ahead to the next storm and not the next election.
Nick Ochsner, an investigative reporter for WBTV, told Mark Shiver on “What Matters in North Carolina that he saw that confidence in McCrory, and credits it in part to his experience over the past couple weeks spent managing the fallout from Hurricane Matthew.
“McCrory has certainly been very much out front and very visible leading the response to this,” he said. “Of course, yesterday he announced the Hurricane Matthew response committee, he’s been down touring disaster areas, he’s been providing information about the hurricane and the damage and the response, and the reason we elect a governor in the state of North Carolina is to do stuff like that, Republican or Democrat. So he’s very much had to be a governor over the last few weeks and that has really shown through.”
The North Carolina Republican Party came out after the debate saying that McCrory collected another win over Cooper.
“In the final North Carolina gubernatorial debate, Governor McCrory again showed himself as a leader and the clear winner,” a party release said.
“As the state’s chief law enforcement officer, Roy Cooper didn’t know his championed radical Charlotte bathroom ordinance could put private business owners in jail who refused to allow men to enter women’s bathrooms, he doesn’t know his own position on taxes, and doesn’t know who is and who is not under FBI investigation. And this guy wants to be governor,” Party Chairman Robin Hayes said.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the party, said, “Roy Cooper stuttered the most incoherent answer about taxes that I have ever heard, and the WRAL commentators called him out on it. Ask yourself: should someone who cannot even answer a simple question on taxes be governor?”
The North Carolina Democratic Party did not publish a press release following the gubernatorial debate.
For another view on the debate, check out Mark Shiver’s recent column on NC Capitol Connection.