RALEIGH, N.C. — Gov. Pat McCrory says he has often entered the crowds at the North Carolina Capitol protesting decisions he and Republican legislative leaders advocate, and gotten cussed out in the process.
McCrory said during a visit to Wilson on Wednesday that he welcomes protesters, but his interactions haven't been pleasant.
"I go out in the crowd all of the time. Frankly, yesterday I went out and talked to several of them and they were not very respectful. They did not represent the majority of people who call themselves moral by cussing me out, but, you know, that's the way things go sometimes," McCrory said in an interview with The Wilson Times (http://bit.ly/12kloPj).
McCrory said last month he had no desire to meet with protesters. There have been no previous reports of the governor engaging with demonstrators. A McCrory spokeswoman did not respond to multiple messages seeking comment Thursday.
Near-weekly demonstrations opposing polices advanced by the legislature's Republican majority have gone on in Raleigh for nearly three months and led to more than 700 arrests. The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP has called the demonstrations starting each week "Moral Monday." Their aim is spotlighting GOP-backed legislation rejecting the expansion of Medicaid to the working poor, slashing benefits to the unemployed, eliminating jobs in public education and placing restrictions on voting.
The Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president, said Friday that his group has never encountered McCrory at one of its protests.
"We have not seen nor heard from the governor," Barber said in an email to WRAL News. "And his description of Moral Monday once again reveals he hasn't seen or chosen to really listen to us but instead continues to be dismissive of the very citizens he was elected to serve, which is disrespectful to the purpose of his office."
Barber said he does not condone anyone cursing McCrory, but he said the governor's policies must be "passionately challenged."
The governor's office reiterated his claim that the exchange happened.
“Governor Pat McCrory interacts with many people, including protesters,” said Kim Genardo, the governor’s communications director. “Every day he walks to and from work, to meetings in government buildings, and throughout the city of Raleigh. When possible the governor will stop and chat with the people of North Carolina.”
Demonstrators again flocked to the legislative building Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to protest legislation increasing regulation of abortion clinics, which critics say would force many to close.