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Kinston Free Press - McCrory Visits Kinston

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Kinston Free Press - McCrory Visits Kinston

Republican gubernatorial candidate cites differences between himself and Purdue

If there's one thing North Carolina Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory wants to establish, it's this: The days of inaccessibility to state government will be gone if he wins November's election.

McCrory sat down with Free Press editors during an exclusive interview in Kinston Thursday afternoon. The seven-term Charlotte mayor said that wherever he goes in the state, he is finding out that citizens are tired of not having their voices heard by state government.

"No matter where I go in the state, they don't feel like they're getting the attention, especially from the executive branch of the government," McCrory said. "They all feel like they've been left out and there's been total inaccessibility in state government.

They feel like the current leadership that runs the state - which is basically five or six people - is invisible, inaccessible and does business in secret. No one is pleased with that type of customer service from our elected officials."

There are some hot-button issues facing McCrory and his Democratic opponent, current Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue, in 2008. One of the key issues McCrory says he differs from Perdue is drilling along North Carolina's shores for natural gas and oil.

While Perdue has clearly stated several times that she's adamantly against it, McCrory is an advocate for off-shore drilling in North Carolina.

"(Off-shore drilling) will help rebuild the North Carolina economy," McCrory said. "This is something that is not environmentally dangerous, it's environmentally sound.

"Natural gas could be piped in under the shores inland to cities including Kinston. Cities like Kinston could be part of the energy solution and would create new, higher-paying jobs."

Although he believes in off-shore drilling, McCrory said his record as an environmentalist was strong.

"As the mayor of Charlotte, I implemented mass transit, green buildings and tree plantings," McCrory said. "I'm a true environmentalist and my actions show it. But at the same time, you don't say no to nuclear power, clean coal or off-shore exploration."

Crime is also a central issue in the campaign, he said.

"If people don't feel safe, it doesn't matter because you won't be able to recruit jobs to come," McCrory said. "As governor, I want to help recruit industry into Kinston. But when you have bars on your windows, you know (industry) is going to see that and say, ‘Wait a minute, is it safe or not?'

"The first goal is to make the place safe. The next goal is to give opportunity for education and to teach people skills where they can get good jobs."

McCrory, 51, said that in his previous seven mayoral campaigns in Charlotte that he had never denied a challenger a debate.

He said he's keeping the same philosophy in the gubernatorial race.

"She's announced that ‘McCrory and Perdue have accepted five debates;' well, I didn't know that. I've accepted every debate," McCrory said. "What she didn't tell you is that she turned down every statewide TV debate. She's been very selective with specific interest groups and which audiences that I can share the stage, that I'm privileged to share the stage with.

"I've had seven mayor's elections and whoever challenged me, I accepted every single debate. That's what an incumbent should do and what a challenger should do."

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