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News-Topic - McCrory Makes Campaign Stop in Lenoir

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News-Topic - McCrory Makes Campaign Stop in Lenoir

Paul Teague

Pledging to break up what he called the "power elite" in Raleigh, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory addressed more than 500 people at a campaign rally Saturday at the Caldwell County Fairgrounds.

McCrory, who has been mayor of the state's largest city for 13 years, is being challenged by Democratic Lt. Gov. Bev Perdue and Libertarian candidate Michael Munger, a Duke University political science professor. He is seeking to become only the third Republican governor in North Carolina in more than a century and the first since fellow Mecklenburg County resident Jim Martin left office 20 years ago.

To be elected, McCrory will need strong support in the traditionally GOP-friendly areas such as Caldwell County, in order to blunt Perdue's likely advantages in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill corridor, known as the Research Triangle, and points farther east.

Polls have shown a close race, with McCrory trailing Perdue 45.6 percent to 42.7 percent in the average.

"It's time to change the status quo in Raleigh, starting right now," McCrory said. "I'm speaking for all of North Carolina."

Earlier in his speech, McCrory said "the same five or six people" have been running the state.

"You know who they are," McCrory said. "But they don't know you."

Caldwell County, which has been hit hard by manufacturing job losses and has an unemployment rate of more than 9 percent, would benefit from a McCrory administration, the candidate said.

"The governor is the chief job recruiter for the state," McCrory said. "You need a governor to go out and sell the state."

He added that the state needs to do more to ensure that public schools and community colleges are graduating people who have the necessary job skills.

"Education and jobs must be connected," he said. "I want to bring the word 'technical' back to our community colleges."

In the face of high gasoline prices, McCrory said he favors drilling for oil and natural gas off the North Carolina coast, something that Perdue has been against.

"My opponent just last month said (she's) 100 percent opposed to offshore drilling in North Carolina," McCrory said. "She said it's not going to happen on (her) watch. She's right, because it's going to happen on my watch."

Also sharing the stage with McCrory were former U.S. Sen. Jim Broyhill and incumbent N.C. Rep. Edgar Starnes. A political icon in Caldwell County, Broyhill represented the county in Washington for 24 years from 1962-86, including a six-month stint as a U.S. Senator.

Now living in Winston-Salem, Broyhill turned 81 last month, but he still showed he could warm up a partisan crowd when needed.

"In this election year, we are at a crossroads in America," Broyhill said. "This election will determine which direction this country takes in the next generation. Pat McCrory wants to make the changes that are necessary in Raleigh. Pat has brought new energy to this party."

Broyhill added that he strongly supports Republican presidential nominee John McCain and Sarah Palin, the party's vice-presidential selection.

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