By Sarah Lowery
Dan Forest, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of North Carolina, kicked off his statewide bus tour leading up to the May primary with two stops in the area on Tuesday.
After a quick visit in the parking lot of a Hardee's, located at 6090 N. N.C. 16 in Denver, at 7:30 a.m., Forest parked his bus outside the Lincoln Cultural Center on East Main Street in Lincolnton to greet supporters for about two hours.
Forest told the Times-News that he will be visiting between three and four counties a day across the state in advance of the primary election on May 8. A press release announcing the stops noted that they are open to all registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters.
"We want to take the campaign to the people," he said.
Forest is traveling with his wife, Alice, and three of his four children on the 32-feet-long bus, which he and campaign manager Hal Weatherman refer to as "Bubba1." On the bus are the words "Run Forest Run," a slogan they coined in reference to the 1994 film "Forrest Gump."
Among the small crowd gathered outside the Lincoln Cultural Center to speak with Forest were Lincolnton Mayor John Gilleland, N.C. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, and Lincolnton Furniture Company owner and CEO Bruce Cochrane.
Prior to each stop, Forest said his campaign is sending out robo-calls to alert local voters of his visit, noting that it was important to him to allow people to come out and meet him and talk about the issues they care about. He added that the bus tour shows how hard he is working now and how hard he plans to work if elected.
Forest also talked about the various small towns in North Carolina, like Lincolnton, whose downtown businesses, he said, are a "great analogy of how wealth in a nation" keeps things running.
"They are keeping the vitality of the town going," he said, adding that he plans to "find ways to allow businesses to do what they do."
"It's not about the rich getting richer," he noted.
Forest, previously a businessman, architect and entrepreneur, resides in Raleigh with his wife and children. He is the son of U.S. Rep. Sue Myrick.