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Dunn Daily Record - Governor's Candidate McCrory In Town

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Location: Dunn, NC

Dunn Daily Record - Governor's Candidate McCrory In Town

Brian Haney

Charlotte Mayor and Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory stopped in Dunn yesterday to attend a campaign fundraiser in his honor at the Western Sizzlin' restaurant.

The event, hosted by N.C. Rep. David Lewis, drew a crowd of nearly 30 supporters, including Erwin Mayor Patsy Carson, and Republican contender for U.S. Rep. Bob Etheridge's 2nd District seat, Dan Mansell.

Those in attendance forked over $50 for a go at the Western Sizzlin' buffet and to hear Mayor McCrory speak about his opponent and issues surrounding the 2008 governor's race.

Asked why she paid $50 for a meal at Western Sizzlin', Dunn resident Jackie Elmore, who attended the event with her husband, former Dunn Mayor Abe Elmore, said, "I came to hear the (state's next) governor speak today."

After helping himself to the buffet and greeting those gathered, Mayor McCrory was introduced by Rep. Lewis, who thanked him for speaking to his Dunn supporters.

"Pat McCrory has a vision that the state can be better than it is," said Rep. Lewis, "and this is a unique and special opportunity to hear remarks by a truly great man."

Addressing Issues

Mayor McCrory addressed what he thinks are some of the state's most pressing issues.

"I am not coming to try to appease you in Dunn," he said. "The next governor is going to have to make some very hard ... decisions and I'm willing to make those tough decisions."

The mayor spoke of a disconnect between employers who, in the current economy, cannot find qualified employees and a 30 percent dropout rate among the state's high school students. Mayor McCrory explained how he wanted to bring together this disconnect by putting an emphasis on vocational programs in high schools and allowing students to learn a trade instead of encouraging them to attend a four-year college.

"Not every student who graduates from high school needs a four-year degree," he said. "We need to quit directing students where they don't want to go and direct them where they can acquire a marketable skill. We need to connect our state's labor needs with our educational strategy."

He also addressed what he called "paralyzing" energy prices that aren't going to end and said North Carolina has to play a role in finding a solution to the problem.

"I'm a conservative," he said. "Conservation is important and as Republicans, we need to understand that."

Mayor McCrory's plan to help alleviate the energy crisis: Do it all. He added that he isn't sure we can continue using ethanol, as its production is crippling food prices.

"North Carolina must have off-shore drilling for oil and natural gas," he said.

While he admitted the claims of opponents to off-shore drilling - the results won't be evident for a number of years - he said it provides all the more reason to start drilling now.

"Drilling would (also) immediately create jobs," he said, "especially through the eastern portion of the state."

He ended his speech by challenging those in attendance to not simply to talk amongst themselves, but go out and get Republicans to go to the polls, then convince Independent voters and North Carolina Democrats, who he said he believed have conservative values, to vote for him as their choice for governor.

"If not now," he asked, "when?"

Following his speech, the mayor took questions from the gathered crowd where he said the most difficult decision he would have to make as governor would be to slow down the growth of government, and addressthe need for clean air and water without getting into environmental fads.

Same Issues Across N.C.

After the guests left, Mayor McCrory sat down and talked about the governor's race.

"We've got a lot of momentum," he said. "All across the state we're stunning the political pundits and party regulars with our ability to be in this race."

He said he'd received incredible feedback from his performances in the gubernatorial debates he and Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue have participated in, but said he wishes Lt. Gov. Perdue will agree to more debates. He lamented the fact that the debates, which she did agree to, will not be broadcast across the state, but only to small constituencies.

He also said he doesn't mind Duke University political science professor and Libertarian candidate for governor Mike Munger, who is invited to only one of the four debates scheduled between the candidates, being included in the debates.

However, he has called for more debates between himself and Lt. Gov. Perdue, saying "ultimately, one of the two of us is going to be the next governor of North Carolina."

Before continuing on to his next campaign stop, Mayor McCrory said one of the things that surprises him most about his campaign travels is how mayors all across the state are dealing with the same issues he's been facing for 13 years as mayor of Charlotte: "Gangs, career criminals, drugs and the 30 percent dropout rate."

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