Governor Pat McCrory was in a feisty mood as he faced off against Attorney General Roy Cooper in the first gubernatorial debate last Friday. But feisty doesn't quite cover it: the governor was also by turns whiny and defensive. As Cooper noted, he blamed everyone but himself for the gaping wound that is House Bill 2. And then he blamed his Democratic predecessors for the current exodus of fed-up public school teachers.
If you missed the hour-long debate, you can find it at wral.com. In the meantime, we've collected a handful of its most notable exchanges.
Gerald Owens, WRAL: Governor McCrory, how will House Bill 2 shape your party's image, not only in North Carolina, but around the country, in the years ahead?
McCrory: I believe that the private sector should not be told by the mayor of Charlotte, or by the city of Charlotte, or by the state of North Carolina, or by the federal government, what their bathroom and restroom and shower policies should be. ... I do think, however—and this is where I disagree with the attorney general—that, in our schools, and in our restaurants, and in our universities, that if a boy, who is a boy, but thinks he's a girl, should not go into the girls' shower.
Cooper: If you notice his response, he's blamed the left wing; he's blamed Charlotte, the Charlotte schools, the media, President Obama, even all of the musicians and performers. I think the governor needs to take a long look in the mirror here.
Loretta Boniti, Time Warner Cable News: Should consideration be given to restricting [gun] sales to people who are on terror watch lists? Should there be changes to North Carolina's current background check?
Cooper: I have proposed, for North Carolina, that those that are on the terror watch list not be allowed to purchase guns. And Governor McCrory, he's ridiculed that proposal. It's important to make sure that we take steps here in this state to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, potential terrorists, and the mentally ill. We need to do a better job with background checks.
McCrory: Now, one of the biggest problems we had when I was mayor [of Charlotte] was that the crime lab run by Attorney General Cooper and his predecessor, former governor [Mike] Easley, was a disaster. ... As a former member of the Homeland Security team, after 9/11, we knew there would be homegrown terrorists. ... I support Senator Burr's most recent effort to allow law enforcement to look at emails, especially people that are coming from nations where we have known terrorist activity. ... We're bringing in refugees from across the border, from Syria ...
At this point, the moderator called time. If McCrory wanted to actually say anything about guns, he missed his shot.
Owens: Attorney General Cooper, let's just say you had a son or daughter who just graduated from college, and they told you they wanted to be a teacher. Would you tell them to teach in North Carolina or encourage them to go to one of the forty-plus other states where they could make more money?
Cooper: I'd tell them to teach right here in North Carolina, because, hold on, I'm coming.
McCrory: The first thing we did was raise entry-level pay by five thousand dollars. Since then, we've given the largest teacher pay raises in the United States of America. I realize you don't see it on WRAL or read it in The Charlotte Observer.
See? It's the liberal media's fault. Of course.