Gov. Bev Perdue told reporters today she’s invited Republican legislative leaders to the mansion Monday afternoon for a “very direct” discussion of the failure of “Project Soccer” – the Continental Tire incentives package - and the high-volume partisan fingerpointing that ensued.
Talking to reporters after an event at Caterpillar in Sanford, Perdue offered the following. (The audio’s not great in the video, so I transcribed it verbatim.)
“You know, yesterday was a hard day for North Carolina. The thing that we all understand we have to do is grow jobs in this state. And [Commerce Secretary] Keith Crisco and our team worked really hard to convince this global company – Continental, again, is a global company – to come to North Carolina. And leaders in the Senate – the new leadership – made a decision about jobs. They chose not to help us put a package together that made those jobs possible.”
“And a lot of red herrings, a lot of fig leaves were danced around yesterday, trying to cover up the fact that, this morning, those jobs are in South Carolina. And that does great damage to our state.” Perdue on Project Soccer failure, marriage amendment
Perdue was asked whether the failure points to the need for bipartisan corporate tax reform.
“I’ve invited Speaker Tillis and Senator Berger to the mansion on Monday afternoon,” she said. “I want to have a discussion with them about the damage this can do – these kind of fig leaves and this accusation stuff that they obviously put out yesterday as a smokescreen for the loss of these jobs. The fact that you need to stand up when you make a decision.”
“But yes, we need to work together. It does bad things to North Carolina. We need to figure out how to work as a team to get jobs to North Carolina. And that doesn’t happen by pointing fingers at each other.”
Another reporter asked Perdue what it takes to get jobs to come to North Carolina.
“Well, we didn’t really lose them to South Carolina, in my opinion,” Perdue responded. “We gave them to South Carolina. Continental had told us directly that we were their site of choice. They wanted to come to North Carolina. Again, y’all, this is a company that’s headquartered in Germany. They chose our state.”
“And it wasn’t just these 1300 jobs that I’m so disappointed in,” she continued. “It was the potential of 1300 more jobs. All of their cluster industries, and the fact that we’d been told there might down the road be another German auto manufacturing plant located somewhere in America. That might have been a help for us to get our foot in that door.”
“And so those discussions were so important to North Carolina. And the company told us they wanted to come here. And they told us what they needed. They picked a site in Brunswick County. Nobody had anything to do with that but the company. They picked the site. They told us they needed 45 million dollars upfront. It would have been paid back in eight years – long-term, it would have been triple, quadruple paid back.”
“And the Senate leadership chose not to play in those kind of solutions. And that does damage to us. And then the fingerpointing yesterday does even more damage to us globally,” Perdue said.
“And so on Monday, I hope for Senator Berger and Speaker Tillis to come in and have some kind of ability to have a discussion where we talk very directly about the fact we’ve got to work together,” she concluded. “This is a global economic development time we find ourselves in. And it’s not about Democrats or Republicans, it’s about the people of North Carolina and jobs for our people.”
On the marriage amendment
Prior to that exchange, Perdue was asked to comment on her position on the marriage amendment. She hadn’t yet issued her statement.
“We’re off topic,” she laughed nervously, telling the Caterpillar executive next to her, “You might want to get yourself out of [the shot].”
“We’ve met with many different groups on both sides of the issue,” she said. “I’ve put together what I want to say, and I’m excited about making it public.”
It’s fair to note here that press releases issued on Friday afternoons rarely contain anything a politician is excited about. In fact, that’s when they typically dump information they hope won’t receive much coverage.
It’s also fair to note that, if she had already put together what she wanted to say, she could have just said it on camera. But she would probably have been asked to answer questions about it.
Instead, she issued a carefully worded position statement that seems to be trying to appeal to both sides of the debate. And as is usually the case with such things, it satisfied no one. Amendment supporters blasted her for trying to politicize the issue. Opponents blasted her, too, for not taking a stronger stance on the issue.
Asked whether the governor plans to campaign against the amendment, her press secretary Chris Mackey said “There are no plans one way or the other at this point.”