Cooper, Forest engage in lone gubernatorial debate
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest hold their only in-person debate before Election Day.
Governor Dan Forest. The live debate at the U. N C. T V Studios and Research Triangle Park is produced by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation. West Go Forth, who recently retired from W. C. T. I. T. V and New Bern, is moderating tonight's debate, which will begin at any moment. Results from our exclusive WRL News poll released today, show Cooper with a 13 point lead over Forest Cooper at 52% Forest at 39% and 8% still undecided. This is a wider lead for Cooper than just a month ago, when our poll showed him leading 49 to 42 voter approval of his handling of the coronavirus. That's at 54% down 4% from September 30. 2% said they disapprove, and the rest we're just not sure. Tonight's debate comes on the eve of in person early voting beginning in North Carolina, the polls open at eight o'clock tomorrow morning. You see just about 13 hours away at the conclusion of tonight's debate, I will be joined by MEREDITH College political science professor David McLennan for insight on the candidates performances that will begin on WRL just calm and just under an hour after we wrap up our debate coverage here on W R L. Now let's send it over to West. Go forth at the U. N C T v Studios 2020 North Carolina gubernatorial candidates Debate is presented through a partnership between U. N, C T V and the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation. Good Evening and welcome. I'm North Carolina TV news Anchor West. Go forth your moderator for tonight and welcome to the 2020 North Carolina gubernatorial debate produced in association with the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Educational Foundation and U. N. C. T. V. We now introduce the candidates tonight the governor of North Carolina, Democrat Roy Cooper and the lieutenant governor of North Carolina Republican Dan Forest. And we should note that this debate tonight is happening. Of course, during a critical time for our state, the co vid pandemic, many North Carolinians have died of the virus, many others are ill. Our prayers go out to all the families involved, and in fact, you will probably notice several physical precautions tonight inside the studio to help ensure safety against Covad. 19 spread including the fact that there is no live audience in the studio tonight, only the two candidates, the moderator and some studio technicians. And in fact, in just the last 12 hours, everybody in the building and in the studio tonight has tested negative for Covert 19. We quickly want to review the rules of the debate. Tonight. It will last one hour. It will begin with one minute opening statements by the candidates, and then I'll submit candidate that questions to the candidates tonight. In that segment, the questions were determined by the moderator and the Radio Television Digital News Association of the Carolinas. The questions have not been read or seen by the candidates nor their staffs. Each candidate will have one minute to respond to each question and a 32nd rebuttal opportunity, and I'll reserve the right to ask follow up questions as needed. The debate will end tonight with 92nd closing statements by each candidate. A device will notify them of their remaining times, and one time has expired. We'll try to ask Justus many questions as possible, and we asked the candidates to adhere to the time limits so we could do just that all in earlier coin toss determined the starting order for the opening statement and the first question response tonight. Mr Cooper, you won the coin toss. Please begin tonight with your one minute opening statement. Thanks for joining everybody. Today. Our world is different. This debate is different. A global pandemic has turned our lives upside down and killed over 215,000 Americans. And tonight's different because of the plexiglass that's separating Dan Forest in me. And is there because for the last eight months, including last night Dan Forest has been having in person events with no mask or social distancing, that's reckless. And it endangers North Carolinians, including the staff in this room, leaving our neighbors in harm's way and risking lives. That's not the North Carolina way, overcoming challenges and taking care of one another. That's the North Carolina I know. We're gonna beat this pandemic working together, and tonight you'll hear how Dan Forest and I differ, and you'll see the choice more clearly than ever before that either in this pandemic or any other issue, I'm going to keep putting you and North Carolina first. Thank you, Mr Cooper. Mr. Forrest your one minute opening statement. Well, thank you, Wes. And thank you to U. N C T V and the Broadcasters Association. And thanks to Governor Cooper as well for having this debate tonight, it has been an honor to serve you for the last eight years. As your lieutenant governor, I'm really proud of theater complice mints that we've been able to achieve during that time. But my natural habitat is not in politics. My natural habitat is actually architecture, and I served there for 22 years of my life, was in office president and a senior partner with the state's largest architecture firm. And I enjoyed every minute of it. I still love architectures. Uh, I loved the design process. I have my wife, Alice and I have been married for 29 years and we have four kids, and we're all in this together. And we love serving the people of North Carolina. So I'm thankful for this opportunity here tonight and I do this for you. I do this for your families. I do this for my family as well, and we look forward to serving as your governor for the next four years. Okay, thanks very much, Mr Forrest. And now we begin our question and answer segment, and we begin tonight with Mr Cooper, one of your opponents. Most recent ads alleges that your administration's pandemic response and protocols have not protected the people of North Carolina. That's left some of the most vulnerable behind. It says on hurt the economy. What will you say about that? How has it affected the state? What this pandemic has taken thousands of North Carolinians from us too soon has left people hurting and jobless and separated from their loved ones. But at every single point, I've used science and data to make the tough decisions. And there is no question that are strong actions early. And the persistence of most North Carolinians has saved lives. When I mandated mass, our cases leveled off. But then Dan Forest lied to the public and said, Mask don't work. He even sued me to stop our safety measures. Thank goodness he lost. You know, politicians like this who hold these in person events and discourage masks, they're part of the problem. They make it harder for us to ease our safety measures harder for us to get our Children back in school where they need to be, and harder for us to slow the spread of this virus. Okay, you think, Mr Cooper, Mr Ford's same question. What about the governor's protocols? Well, its's should be of no surprise to anybody why Governor Cooper has spent tens of millions of dollars in negative ads against me during this campaign. Talking about masks masks is a great cover for what he really doesn't want to talk about the over million and a half people that he has left unemployed. The thousands of businesses that have been shut down, the thousands of businesses that will never reopen again, the suicide and addiction, drug addiction, alcohol addiction and, uh, anxiety, depression, you name it that's wreaking havoc on our state all over from one end of North Carolina, uh, to the next. So there's a lot of things in Governor Cooper's record that he just doesn't want to tell you. So he spends a lot of time talking about masks. Get Mr Force 32nd rebuttal, Mr Cooper. Well, now you're not just ignoring science, you're ignoring common sense. You cannot wish the pandemic away. It doesn't work like that. It requires all of us doing our part. It's going to take us dealing with this pandemic and slowing the spread to get our economy fully going again. And when you're out there pretending that there is no pandemic, that's going to hurt the number of jobs that we have. Look, I took an oath to be faithful to the state of North Carolina, and I've been doing that every single day by making sure we're putting health and safety first during this pandemic. 30 seconds, Mr Forced. There's no doubt there's a pandemic, and there's no doubt that Israel, in fact, half of the deaths in North Carolina have come from nursing homes, which are under the direct control of Governor Cooper. If he's been half the amount of time, half the amount of energy and half the amount of money just focusing on the most vulnerable in North Carolina, we'd have half the amount of deaths in North Carolina as well. We need to make sure that we can do two things at once in American, we can protect the most vulnerable and we can allow the healthy folks to get back to their livelihoods. Next question for you Mr Forrest, the virus, the subsequent issues, politically and economically, have certainly hurt the state's economy. A graduated return could make things even worse or could result in worse things. What would you do now? If you take the governor's mansion in January, toe. Get the economy jump started again? I think we would do it. I just said we would focus on protecting the most vulnerable there. The elderly there, over 70 years old. They have multiple co morbidity is That's where we should be spending all of our time and attention. We should allow healthy people to get back about life, back about work back to school. Our kids have missed almost the entire year of school for no reason whatsoever. This virus is about 17 times more likely to get impact from the flu than the coronavirus. Our kids actually need to be in school right now. We need to get people's livelihood back. We've been meeting with these people, have been traveling around the state and its devastating across the state. The businesses that have been closed, the people have lost everything. There's ah, what we're doing is we're trading public health for public health. There's a public health crisis on the side of coronavirus with the virus itself. And there's a public health crisis on the other side with all the complications of the virus. Mr. Cooper, one minute. What do we do to recover economically now, Dan? Slowing the spread of this virus helps us recover our economy. We've been recruiting tens of thousands of jobs to our state, even during this pandemic. Forbes magazine has ranked North Carolina number one in business for only three years, and those are the three years that I have been governor. We even had to overcome the House bill two bathroom bill that Dan Forest pushed on our state. But we've been able to do that now are small. Businesses have been hit hard and we need to help them. And in fact, I put forward funding to help them. We need to push Congress to doom or to help them. We need to provide mawr for our unemployed. We have one of the worst unemployment systems, the steadiest unemployment system in the country. And I have pushed this Legislature to doom or for them. But Dan Forest in the legislature continue to say no. We can improve this economy, but we have to slow the spread of this virus, and that's what we are doing right now. Is slowing the spread. We can't have people being irresponsible and telling people they don't need to worry about this pandemic. 30 seconds for a rebuttal. Mr Forrest E. I agree that we should never tell people they don't need to worry about the pandemic. But we should never also tell people that, uh, that their jobs are not important and they can earn a living for themselves or their non essential. There's no such thing as a non essential job in America. The governor's laid off over a million and a half people in North Carolina. You can't claim all the jobs you've created. When you laid off a million and a half, we need to get people back to work. We need to protect the most vulnerable we can do. Two things at once were the most innovative country in the world. One of most innovative states in America. Okay, thank you very much, Mr Forest. We Now we're going to go to the rebuttal for Mr Cooper. 30 seconds. Well, you talk, you talk about protecting the most vulnerable. We're doing that in our nursing homes. But the problem is, Dan, you treat nursing homes like an island and that everybody counts could do whatever they want. And you can still protect nursing homes. That is not the way it works when you have people out there discouraging mask. When you have people out there trying to prove that there's not a pandemic, then you end up having mawr people who are infected. It could be a nursing home staff member. Ah, visitor to the nursing home. Those people go in and bring Cove in 19 into the nursing home. That's the problem. It all works together, and we need strong measures to make sure we slow down the spread of this virus. Mr. Cooper, who would have thought the mask issue would get this big? We've heard so much about it. We do see, despite your order, a lot of people out not wearing masks, accused Mr Forrest of it. We see neighbors, people in our churches. Compliance is still largely voluntary, and without any, uh, really enforcement of it, how effective has it been? And when might you lift that mandate? Well, there's no question that it has been effective because once we required mask, our cases leveled off. Most North Carolinians want to do the right thing, and we have worked closely with retailers. I've told them. Look, it's good for your bottom line to insist that people wear masks when they come on to your retail establishment because the employees want that and the customers there want that. We need to make sure that we continue to push this. We've talked to law enforcement. Law enforcement is a little hesitant to enforce the mandate, but many of them go up and talk to people and tell people they should be wearing Mask and a number of law enforcement have agreed to come to retail establishments and to say to them, Okay, we'll remove someone for trespassing if they're not wearing a mask like they ought to. The thing is, if we had really leaders across the board, who would tell people that mask are important, you heard the C. D. C chair say this mask is the most important weapon that we can have rather have a mass than a vaccine. We need all of our leaders talking about this so we can slow the spread. Mr. Forrest. Same question. How effective as the order, Ben and, uh are you personally against it? People deciding I'm not personally against people deciding at all. I've never said that. In fact, I've always said it should be. Ah, personal responsibility. Choice. It doesn't need to be a governor's mandate. We don't need a governor that treats us like five year olds. We need a governor that does protect us but not treat us like we're little kids. Uh, mass. Start the solution to everything. And in fact, Dr Fauci said, Mass don't work. The surgeon general, the United States said mass don't work. The CDC said masks don't work. There are scientists and doctors all over the world right now that have come together under the Great Barrington Declaration. 35,000 of them today from leading universities on leading hospitals all over the world. Uh, Nobel Prize winners who are coming out and saying the lock down mandates and the max there are actually causing mawr harm. Then good. We need to protect the vulnerable. We need to do that right now. We need to let all the healthy people get back to a normal way of life. All right. Thank you, Mr Forrest. Rebuttal, Mr Cooper. Really, Dan, Really mass don't work. Scientists say they don't. That is just absolutely not true. You're finding that on the dark corners of the Internet, across the board scientist, Dr Fauci, Dr. Redfield are saying that mask our best weapon to slow the spread of the virus. And there is no cost to this. People can wear it there. There is no in kinds of restrictions. You could just wear the mask. And it's talking. We're talking about looking after your neighbor. You wear the mask to protect other people, particularly if you do not know that you have the virus. That's amazing. 30 seconds. Mr. Forrest, C D. C. Just this week released their study about masked, wearing and cave Positive Cove. It cases. 85% of the positive cases in America are from people who say they wore the mask every day all the time, or at least almost all the time, 85% of the positive cases. Governor Cooper says that the case is actually went down when he made his mask mandate. They didn't. They leveled off for a short period, and then they actually went up again. Eso no, you're not seeing the impact that we should be seeing with everybody wearing mask. That's just not the case. The next question. Mr Forrest, the state's employment security division. It's come under some great scrutiny here during the pandemic of poor customer service, of slow a processing of claims and complaints. And, uh, if you're elected, what do you do to change that in the employment security division? Well, this is a place where leadership really does matter. The government governors completely failed the people of North Carolina with employment securities. It's pretty unbelievable that, uh, very early side of this when he was getting ready to lay off a half a million people for for restaurants, I said, Are you prepared for 500,000 people to be laid off? There was silence on the phone, but no. Apparently, he was not prepared for 500,000 people to be laid off in one day because, in fact, the employment securities folks didn't respond to people for months. My office, who's not even responsible for employment securities, helped over 25,000 people get their unemployment. Why? Because when they called the governor's office. There was a busy signal when they called Unemployment Securities office. They didn't get any help. So they heard through the Internet that they could come to the lieutenant governor's office and we would help them out. We will transform employment securities. We will make sure that when we have an issue in North Carolina that we need to provide that service, that that service is going to be available. For the people of North Carolina, there is a logjam now, Mr Cooper. Well, no. People are getting their unemployment payments now. And in fact, when this pandemic hit, North Carolina had the worst. The stingy ist these shortest unemployment system in the country because of Dan Forest and the legislative leadership. A system that was built take thousands of claims a month, all of a sudden had hundreds of thousands of claims. But despite that, this department has pulled together and gotten out $8.2 billion to almost a million people. Ah, lot of people. When they lost jobs, they also lost their health insurance. So one of the things that we could do to help these people is to expand Medicaid to help these hundreds of thousands of people. But Dan Forest and the legislative leadership say no to expanding Medicaid, even in the middle of a pandemic. That is hard to believe. But we've got a lot of work to do. And I'm gonna continue working his governor to make sure we help everyone find a job and to make sure that people have the help they need. 32nd rebuttal. Well, Governor, what we could do to help these people have given their job back. You can open up the economy and get people back to work again. Protect the most vulnerable. We know how to do that. We we know we knew how to do that months ago. We can do that now. Put your time and your energy and your effort and your money into protecting the vulnerable people to keep them from getting the virus. Let everybody else go back to work. Then you don't have to worry about their health insurance at the same level. They'll have a job again. They'll have insurance. That's the most important thing you can do right now. We work to get people back to work, and in fact, we provided funding for small businesses to help them. And I issued executive orders to try to protect people and do not have to look for another job while they're on unemployment so they could go back to the business that they left. I even proposed to significantly mawr toe help these small businesses during the pandemic. Even if you removed all of the safeguards, the not people aren't gonna be able to come back to places where people are crowding together. But you and the legislative leadership rebuffed it and scale back significantly the amount of money that I asked for for small businesses that they desperately need right now. Next question, gentlemen, schools and learning. And Mr Cooper, our schools are still not fully open. Maybe not even close. Uh, do you see a time when the entire state can be opened again? How soon? What has to happen? First Number one priority for May is to make sure that we get our Children back in school again. We want our schools back normal, but we have to make sure that it's safe for teachers and students on while I'm using science and data to help make those decisions. Dan Forest is holding a press conference saying we're gonna fill all the classes back up immediately. We're not gonna have any mass, no social distancing and no safety measures. That is dangerous. And it is stunning to me that he would use Children as political pawns during the middle of a pandemic. But what Dan Forest really wants to do with our public schools, he wants to starve them for funding and then use those tax dollars to help rich people send their Children to private schools using vouchers. That is not what our schools need trying to come out of this pandemic. We need to doom or for public education, not less. And we need to put safety over politics, and we'll get the vouchers in just a few minutes. Mr. Ford's same question. When will school return? A. Soon as I'm governor, School will return. Schools are open all over the world. Schools are open all over the United States. In fact, private schools have been open for 12 weeks in North Carolina. All over North Carolina would know outbreak No, no trouble from anybody. Our public schools could be open the same way. The governor won't take any advice from anybody. I've talked Thio, multiple nurses, co vid nurses that Air Frontline nurses said they've tried to contact the governor's office. They've contacted Mandy Cohen and have contacted the superintendent, saying, We'll help you get open. We're dealing with co vid front line every single day. We know how to do this. We can keep kids safe. We can keep teachers safe. Let's get our schools open because this is far more dangerous for our kids not being in school than it is for them. Uh, dealing with this on the other side. So our kids are having massive struggles right now. Anxiety, depression, screen addiction, abuse. 50% reduction in child abuse right now. Because kids aren't in school. If they were in school, their teachers would be able to discover it. They'd be able to get these kids help, but they're locked in their homes with their abusers. This is a horrible situation for our kids. 30 seconds, Mr Cooper. Man, there are a lot of cases in our schools, but I I want to make sure we get our Children back in school too, but safely. But the lieutenant governor is on the State Board of Education, where the school opening plans or discussed and voted on while I'm working with them and public health officials, he's missed almost half board of education meetings during the pandemic. You can't play hookey, skip the tough decision, skip the tough boats and still be a leader in public education in the state that forced. I've been almost every one of those meetings, especially every voting meeting my staff sits in my education. Experts and advisors sit in on all those meetings. We don't miss a beat. And in education meeting, we never have. We've always been president, all of them, in fact, from the very beginning. The governor's Plan A, B and C never worked. I didn't vote for it. That came before the skateboard. I said. I asked him. I said, What is the goal? What are we trying to achieve with Plan A, B and C? And there was 15 seconds of silence on the phone and nobody knew what the goal was and how we were gonna be ready to get back to class. That's not a plan, and that's not leadership. That's why I voted against it. Just a couple of more Covad issues here, gentlemen, Mr Forrest, there will still be concerned when kids go back. Even if your governor, as you said in January, what do the teachers think about this? Their workload is so heavy right now. Are they going to be held responsible for making sure everything's clean, that the personal hygiene of every child has met? Well, well, I mean, the teachers have all kinds of responsibility on their hands every day. It's kind of unbelievable. Teachers were doing double and triple duty of their work. Now is they're trying toe teach online, part time teaching in class part time and deal with all the other struggles that they have to deal with. What we said in that press conference is not at all what the governor said. We said, Let the local communities decide how to safely open their schools and deal with teachers. If there are teachers that have co morbidity is and issues let them deal with their principle, they can teach online. They could teach virtually if there are parents who don't want their kids to go back to school, let them make that decision. But for the parents that do want their kids in the classroom. They should have the option in the right to be able to get their kids back in the classroom, where they can learn again. Our kids are missing a year of school. Uh, we can figure this out West. This is not that difficult. We can figure out how to keep a school clean our kids or not even at serious risk from coronavirus 17 times more likely to die from the seasonal flu than they are from coronavirus. Kids were not impacted, so let's get our kids back. If somebody was to keep their kid home, they can. If a teacher needs to stay out, they can. But we need to open our schools. Mr. Cooper, what about that? Teachers cleaning up, maybe responsible, still denying the science. And you said you went to every meeting. That is not true. You missed almost half of them during the pandemic. But let me tell you this about teachers and our schools. We cannot keep leaving our teachers behind and expecting them to lead our Children into the future. This legislature, Dan Forest in the legislative leadership, has short changed education over and over and over. We need to invest. We're asking them to doom or than ever in the middle of this pandemic. We're asking them to learn how to do remote learning. We're asking them to go into schools to help teach our Children in person, and many of them are doing it right now. We have to support them. My mom was a public school teacher. I'm a product of public schools. It is important to me, and we need to make sure that we get through this pandemic, get our Children back safely in the classroom in the right way and then fund public education like we ought to. 32nd Rebuttal must forced. Well, if the governor paid attention to the numbers, he'd know that North Carolina is now number one in the Southeast for increased funding in public education. But he probably doesn't know that because he's vetoed every single budget since he's been governor, including every single teacher pay raise. He claims he's all for teacher pay until it's time to pass the budget for teacher pay. We've increased teacher pay over 20% since Republicans have been in control, but the governors vetoed every single budget every single one s. So we have been doing those things. He's just hadn't been paying attention because you've been veto in the mall. All right, Mr Cooper, big concern right here among students is the large, uh, number of disadvantaged students, which you want to get to. But your rebuttal. Then again, on the teachers in the classroom when they go back, well, we need toe. Make sure that we're funding education properly. There's no question that the General Assembly has Dunmore with teacher pay has reestablished teaching. Fellow scholarship has expanded pre K, and it's because I made education front and center. But the reason I vita those bad budgets is because they put corporations over classrooms. This General Assembly wants to continue with the sweeping corporate tax cuts that hurt our schools, along with the private school vouchers that hurt our schools. And we need to do a lot better than that. And about those disadvantaged students are, there is a large number. They're falling behind because of the digital divide. What do you do to level the playing field for this percentage of kids to get them back up to speed and caught up? You know, every household needs access to high speed Internet access. And in North Carolina we have provided millions of dollars to try and do that. I have my hometown strong effort that's getting digital learning to these students. But now we know that closing that digital divide is more important than ever, not only because remote learning, which we need but also telemedicine and for our small businesses. I have proposed a 250 million dollar bond that would go along with the school construction bond because that's part of our infrastructure. But once again, Dan Forest and the Legislature have turned that away. We have to invest MAWR for high speed Internet access. We need to make sure that we aren't just having to do hot spots everywhere, which is what we're trying to do now for short term. But we got to do better, and we need them to pass that bomb. Mr. Forrest, one minute the question I think West was about special needs kids and and those kind of folks special needs. Kids, especially, are getting hit really hard here during this, uh, talk to special needs parents about every day, at least multiple times a week, said. Their kids are learning absolutely nothing. Log onto class. They lay on the sofa. Special needs kids, needs teachers in the classroom. All kids needs need teachers in the classroom. That's the way it's supposed to be. That's we got to get back to that. So that's first and foremost. The governor likes to run around claiming his success with the Teaching Fellows program. He actually vetoed that as well. So that was a veto by the governor had absolutely nothing to do with that. The Legislature funded that, too. UM, hometown strong. Nice slogan, but he's done nothing for small town North Carolina. You wanna talk about access to broadband? I led the effort for broadband connectivity in the classroom. Were the first state in the nation. Have every single classroom connected to high speed broadband when I'm governor will be the first state in the nation, actually have all of the last mile connected to high speed broadband and Mr Cooper, we're talking about special needs Children, but also disadvantaged, economically disadvantaged. Your reply. Well, there's no question that special needs Children need help, and they do not respond well for remote learning, and it's one of the reasons that we went ahead and implemented. Plan A where K through five can go back fully into school with appropriate safety measures. A Zilong is the local Board of education approved it. We know that special needs Children need special attention. It's one of the reasons why I put forward $35 million out of the governor's discretionary money from the Cares Act specifically for special needs Children. Okay, Reply there, Mr Boris. Well, again, you know we're talking about We're getting the RK five open. Great. I'm all in favor, actually voted to get K five open. But I actually proposed an amendment in that state board to allow the counties that want to open all the way up from K, although K through 12 to be able to do that, there's no reason that the county is ready and prepared and they can safely open and their parents want it. They should be able to do that. I tried that. The State Board of Education that's controlled by Democrats by his appointment said no. The governor has all the authority here, and he said K five, he's not willing to open up the rest Okay. Thank you, gentlemen, for those comments about Covert, let's move along to state budget questions right here. Of course, Mr Forrest, whoever wins the governor's mansion is, uh, needing to work with the General Assembly, uh, to balance a budget, very possibly against some uncertain revenue streams. Would you consider a tax increase or, at the very least, a tax rollback? In order to do that, I don't know how this is gonna get funded West, but is gonna have to be. I believe that the government now because of Governor Cooper shut down and all the businesses that are going bankrupt and people that are having to take out loans for the first time and people that have never had thio spend a dime on their business through loans that are having to do that now, I think the government has a moral imperative. The government of North Carolina, the government, the United States, these leaders like our governor. They're the ones that shut the place down. These businesses did not do that on their own. Remember at the beginning, it was just closed down for two weeks, just two weeks and everything's gonna be okay and then two weeks turned into a month and a month turned into two months and two months turned into four months and four months turned into eight months. The government's gonna have an imperative West here. We have to try to figure this out. There's gonna be one of the most difficult things we've ever done in state government is going to take years to bail this out long after Governor Cooper is gone. And Mr Cooper, do you see a tax increases necessary at least a rollback of cut? We do not need to increase taxes in order to handle this budget. What we need to do is stop the tax giveaways to the wealthy and stop the sweeping corporate tax cuts that dance forest and the legislative leaders continue to put on people. Now what we need to do is we need to help those businesses, but what we need is leaders who are going to get out there and help to slow the spread of the virus. There are a lot of businesses that are hurting that have no economic restrictions on them, and that's because Ah, lot of people aren't going to engage in the economy until they feel safe. And if we have leaders out there who are trying to say everything is fine, you don't need to wear a mask. You don't need to worry about it, open everything up. Everything is fine denying science, then that's that's just wrong. That's gonna end up hurting us mawr. Economically, you complain about the economy, but you won't do the simple things you need to do to fix it. And that's slow. The spread of this virus getting a balanced budget Rebuttal. Mr. Forrest, I'm not complaining about the economy. I'm actually just out there with all these people who are dying right now. They're dying, not just from Cove it, but they're dying because their businesses are going out of business and they don't know what to do their at their wits end because of what the governor is doing. You know, it's that this co vid science is an interesting thing because you cross the border into South Carolina and South Carolina is open and people are out there. You know, going to restaurants and doing things you cross into Tennessee and Tennessee is open. You cross into Georgia and Georgia's Open, and they're learning how to live with the virus and protect the vulnerable and get people back to work. They're learning how to do that. We have to learn how to do that. Here in North Carolina, gentlemen, Staying with the state budget here. Mr Cooper. You? Yes, sir. You dio, uh, it's interesting that Dan mentions Georgia. We've heard a lot about what he wants to do, and he wants to be like Georgia. Georgia is about the same size is North Carolina yet they have almost 100,000 MAWR cases. They have almost half twice is almost twice as many deaths. And they have almost 600 Mawr nursing home deaths than North Carolina. That's the kind of state you get with Dan Forest is Governor Mawr cases, Mawr deaths, Mawr deaths and nursing homes? I don't think the people in North Carolina want that, Dan. Mr. Cooper, The Legislature in past years has targeted across the board pay increases for certain segments of state employees. Perhaps teachers at one time there was than correctional officers and different percentages at that. Do you think that's, um, uh, necessarily equitable? And, uh, what would be your next classifications to get paid more. Well, the first thing we gotta do is to pay our teachers. We get you got to get our teacher pay to at least the national average. I do know that state government needs to recruit good employees across the board, and sometimes you need to pay MAWR in order to get the engineers and get the technicians and people that you need in state government. But I think it's important for us. I go back to this corporate tax cuts. This legislative leadership that Dan Forest has been apart off has cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of our tax base that could have gone for pay raises for teachers and other state employees, but it's been given away to corporations and the wealthiest among us. That's where we have our biggest difference. There's no question we gotta pay our teachers mawr. We've gotta pay our law enforcement MAWR to attract and retain the best Law enforcement officers were doing that with corrections officers, but one thing I do know is that we've got to stop these corporate tax cuts in order to be able to have the money to be able to do it. Who deserves the next race raised Mr Well, let me First West just hit on the corporate tax cuts. The governor rails against corporate tax cuts all day long, but he loves going and giving away incentives to corporations when they're coming to town. In fact, he actually went back to the Legislature, Ask for more money so he could give MAWR money away to big corporate interests coming to our state. Now that you can't have it both ways, you can't say, Oh, we don't want tax cuts but we're gonna give people tax money when they come to the state. It doesn't work that way, Governor. That's not the way it works. But we need Thio. Yes, we continued to increase teacher pay. We've done a year over, year over year. We're the only state in the country that's done it. Seven years in a row under Republican control. Governor Cooper vetoed it. Veto Vito Vito, Vito. We're passing. It is Republicans will continue to do that. We need to start focusing on state employees, though we have some hardworking state employees in North Carolina that deserve a race, and we need to make sure we can attract and retain the best workers we need to work on their work environment. We need toe drive, their morale up their morale, some of the lowest morale that has been in years. The Highway Patrol has the lowest morale I've seen in eight years under Governor Coopers leadership. We need to get that back. We need to get their pay up. Another, uh, state employees as well. 30 seconds, Mr Cooper. Dan, you obviously don't know how incentives work. You only pay incentives to corporations when they have a job that has been created, and they get a tax credit for that. It's very specific what you've been doing, which is a big difference. It's sweeping tax cuts across the board. Ah, lot of outer state corporations benefit from it who don't create one single job in North Carolina. You gotta learn how this works if you're gonna be Governor, Dan. All right. Thank you very much, Mr Cooper. And 30 seconds, Mr Forrest, I know how this works. I've been in the business world for most of my life. Work to bring projects to North Carolina before I was in politics. I know exactly how incentives work, and I know how the tax system works. But here in North Carolina, we cut taxes. We cut personal income tax. We cut corporate income tax. What the governor said was, the state's gonna go broke. It's gonna go broke or not have any money. Instead, we've had surpluses 300,000,506 100 million $900 million surpluses before this, which was allowed us to put money away in the rainy day fund. Since we've had multiple rainy day funds and the government kind of appreciated having that next question, Mr. Forrest, you do support homeschooling, school vouchers, school choice. Put all of your philosophy for education in together, including public education. Well, I think parents should be able to choose. I think we should continue to improve all forms of education. We should have excellent education for everybody. That should doesn't matter the flavor. If a parent chooses homeschooling, great if they choose a public charter school. Great. 85% of our parents still choose traditional public school. That's great. We should allow those choices toe happen because that's what the parents are choosing. The government's one size fits all approach to education just doesn't work anymore. We need turn education up, shake it out a little bit and make sure that we have excellent education for everybody. Assed faras opportunity scholarships go. We put money aside for the poorest kids in our state to have an opportunity to get out of a failing school so they can have an excellent education. The governor stands against it. He said he would get rid of opportunity scholarships. He wouldn't allow these poor kids to get out of their failing school to go to a good private school if that's what their parents want. The governor sent his daughter to elite private school. It's okay for him, but it's not OK for poor kids to send their kid to a private school. I think that's egregious. Your response. Mr Group. He talks about the surplus that we've had every year, yet we have. So why don't we pay teachers more? That's what I've been saying time and again. But they won't do it. Thes private school vouchers. Have you read your own plan? Dan, Your own plan says that everybody gets it. That means that rich parents would be able to use these vouchers in order to send their Children to private school. Two of my Children spent their entire career in public schools and one most of her career in public schools. I really don't think our Children should have anything to do with this debate. But I will say this. We've got to stop these corporate tax cuts. We've got to invest in education. We've got to increase our per people expenditure. Yes, I'm for charter schools. I think they can work well, and we need to do things to make education better, treat teachers like professionals. Make sure that we recruit the very best and the brightest. And we need people to stand up for our public schools to tell about the good things that are going on there like I do. 32nd rebuttal, Mr Forrest, Instead of vetoing every budget again that we've done with education increases that have got us to number one in the Southeast for increased funding in education, that's where we are Number one in the Southeast. Instead of that, the governor's veto tamal. I've been working on all these things the governor's talking about. He's done absolutely nothing for education. Zero. We've been working on financial literacy and economics. We've got that put in every high school in North Carolina. Now that is a top priority for our kids to learn these things. Computer science. We're working on competency based learning. We're working on diminishing testing so that our teachers can actually teach in the classroom. That's what we should be working. 30 seconds. Mr. Cruz Satisfied with teacher pay bragging with where teacher pay is Now You ask most teachers and parents whether that's something that they're proud off and they will tell. You know, we have the ability to doom or and we should doom or we have to increase our investment in public education. It is the foundation for our future. I recruit companies to North Carolina all the time. I talked to CEOs. They don't ask me about corporate taxes. What they ask me about is workforce, and they ask, Do can you provide the education so that we can have a workforce that can do the jobs that we create? That's why we need to invest. Gentlemen. Next, a question about race. The matter of racism is very hot in the United States right now. Governor Cooper, do you believe that systemic racism exists in North Carolina. If so, what do you do about it? To address it, I think, uh, the death of George Floyd open painful wounds. And we need to listen to people who lift up their voices for equality, injustice. But we cannot tolerate violence and destruction, and anybody who does that should make sure that they are held responsible. But our communities are working very hard to keep themselves safe to start their economies going. But Dan Forest right now is doing what no leaders should do. He got caught running an ad using fake riot footage from Washington and New York, pretending it was ash full, hurting their economy. That is unacceptable. Dan Forest is using this issue for fear and division, and he thinks that's gonna win this race for him. And I think he's wrong. Is there systemic racism? Mr. Forrest very clearly didn't answer that question. No, I don't think there's systemic racism. There's racism. We should reject it at every single turn. That's what we should do in America. But the governor said that we should also reject violence and destruction and looting. When he stood by, he's locked in his mansion, uh, surrounded by a wall surrounded by a fence surrounded by police cars and surrounded by police officers in riot gear. And just two blocks away, downtown Raleigh was being destroyed. Downtown Charlotte was being destroyed. Downtown Asheville, who was being destroyed. Governor didn't do anything about that. He had the ability to call out the National Guard and send them in to stop it. When I'm governor, I will never allow an angry mob to destroy one of our cities. And on the actual footage, there's actual footage. The news stations and national wouldn't let us use it. We had to go get other footage. That's why we couldn't use it. But it's out there, and everybody knows that the people in these cities No, they've been dealing with the destruction. I was eating at a restaurant in downtown Raleigh the other day that still all boarded up because they're scared to take the plywood down because they're scared the governor won't protect them when the riots come back to town. When I'm governor, you won't have to worry about that 30 seconds, Mr Cooper, and likes to ignore my record as the top law enforcement officer of the state and attorney general for 16 years as governor, I signed a bill to double the penalties for anybody who would attack a law enforcement officer with a gun. We've got to make sure that we have strong law enforcement in North Carolina. But let's don't forget that it was Dan Forest supporters who were out in the middle of the street in Raleigh, burning mask and calling police officers pigs. Yet Dan Forest said, and did nothing about that, Mr Forced. That's the most bizarre comment I have ever heard. My supporters in the streets calling police officers pigs. Those are my supporters, Governor, those of your supporters, the ones you walk through right before they rioted and looted downtown. Riley. Why you had that little mask dangling around year Not around your face, protecting you or the people around you. That's what we're dealing with right now. That is why the vast majority almost every single law enforcement organization in North Carolina has endorsed Dan Forest because they know the governor does not support law enforcement. And he didn't for his 16 years as attorney general either. Thank you, Mr Forrest. Next question has to do with Medicaid and teacher pay as we have seen in the last, uh, few years, the Republican Legislature, the Democrat governor, in a long running battle over this. But what it's resulting in, of course, is teachers not getting pay raises. And on the other side, the Medicaid not being expanded to people who would otherwise qualify it for it in the state. Eyes there a way we could do that. What do we have to do? Tow serve Both groups of these people? We do. All we need is a new governor. I won't. I will work with the General Assembly. I won't work against him. In fact, we've given teacher pay raises every single year. Until Governor Cooper became governor and started vetoing every single pay raise, we were able to pass some in some secondary budgets. But he keeps veto. He keeps claiming, I want more teacher pay and then he says zero is better than something. No, it's not. Governor. Zero is not better than something. We've given teachers 20% pay increases. That's not nothing. Every single year we've increased teacher pay. We'll keep doing it. We've said we would keep doing it, so we're gonna keep working on that But as long as the governor keeps vetoing, budgets were not. When I'm governor, I'm not gonna veto the budgets. I'm gonna work with the General Assembly. We're gonna come up with a plan not just for education and teachers. That keeps funding those things. But for these other things that we need to do is, well, we've been doing that. And the governor has been an obstructionist ever since. He's been in office. He's never worked with the General Assembly, has never tried to work with the General Assembly. When I'm governor, I will. Mr Cooper, working with the General Assembly on a lot of things. I'm just not going to rubber stamp everything they do like you're doing. But health care is one of the most important issues we face right now In closing the health care coverage gap, particularly in the middle of a pandemic, I believe is a moral imperative. We have a way to get health care to construction workers to early childhood educators by expanding Medicaid, 39 other states have done it, including Indiana. When Mike Pence was governor, I was talking to an early childhood teacher who was mourning the death of a co worker who had died of a stroke. She was treating herself at home with home remedies for high blood pressure because she didn't have health insurance. If North Carolina had expanded Medicaid, she might be alive today. This is wrong to withhold coverage from over half a million working North Carolinians. All we have to do is to say yes, and Dan Forest and the Republican leadership continue to stop it. And if he's elected governor, you know it's not gonna happen. 30 seconds, Mr Forrest. A million and a half working North Carolinians. They were working until you lay them off Governor. Now there's a 1.8 million without jobs, given their jobs back, then get their healthcare back. Yes, everybody needs healthcare. We know that you cannot survive in this world today without health care coverage, we need to continue to drive down costs, and we need to drive up quality. Medicaid is not the way to do that. A one size fits all government program is not the way to do that. The governor wants more money to expand the largest agency in the state when he can't manage the d o T. He can't manage hurricanes. He can't manage deaths in nursing homes. You want to give him money to increase the largest agency in the state of North Carolina? Not good business, Mr Cooper. Look, we can expand Medicaid in North Carolina, and it won't cost the state any additional money. It's time to do it now. The people of this state deserve to get health care coverage. Dan talks about getting a job is a magical thing that's gonna get you health care. There are tens hundreds of thousands of people in this state who have jobs but don't have employer sponsored health insurance and cant afford it. They're working. They want to keep working to support their family. We could expand Medicaid to get those working people. Health insurance. You have no plan, Dan. No plan at all, Gentlemen. We have time for one more question and rebuttals tonight and I do want to talk about hurricanes. Uh, they have decimated. Flooding has decimated a large ports and portions of the state. In just the last four years, we had three major hurricanes and flooding. What specifically needs to be done to prevent future flooding, And how can we be sure that this won't be constructed just to simply set up the same thing to get flooded again. Well, first, we inherit broken long term recovery system in North Carolina. When I became governor and we fixed it, we set up the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resilience. We understand that we have to rebuild smarter and stronger, and we got out 3.5 billion dollars for people to rebuild their homes, rebuild their business, rebuild infrastructure. I talked to a woman in Johnson County. She couldn't get any federal help. She didn't have flood insurance, but we were able to provide state grants to her in order for her to be able to build a new house. That's the kind of thing we need to do. North Carolinians are strong and resilient. We also have to fight climate change. Dan Forest denies climate change. What we have to do is to make sure that we're setting forth renewable energy and making sure that we get to carbon zero not only to fight climate change, but also to create good clean energy jobs in North Carolina. And we're gonna continue to do that with my clean energy plan. in North Carolina. Mr Mr Forrest. One minute. Well, it's a real issue. Esa's. You know, there are still thousands of people across the state of North Carolina there, waiting to be helped from Hurricane Matthew, Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Dorian. And when Governor Cooper got elected, Hey was out there with his cameras and his microphone in front of everybody taking pictures. But there are still people that have not gotten help from those Hurricane South Carolina built 1000 homes before North Carolina built even one. I will do better than that. North Carolina when it comes to flooding. Uh, the governor's plan was to put 300. Prius is on the road. My plan will be to dredge the creeks and rivers that are causing the flooding in eastern North Carolina. So it doesn't happen again. That's a real plan. Eso There's plenty we can do, and there's plenty we can talk about what we need to start with the basics. I'm scooper your bottle. We are rebuilding stronger and smarter. We're doing buyouts in areas where we know they're going to flood. Cleaning out creeks and rivers may sound good, but it's not something that's going to work in order to reduce flooding. We have to be smarter. We have to build our infrastructure to be more resilient. But we also have to fight climate change. And you even said the other day something crazy like the world is cooling as you were denying climate change. We've got to step up and do the right thing to protect our planet for our Children and our Children's Children. But the thing about this, this will help our economy clean. Energy jobs are going to come to this state, and we're gonna make sure that more money or in people's pockets big issue. Rebuttal. Mr Forrest. Well, I was green before the green New Deal. As an architect, I was one of the first lead accredited professionals in the state of North Carolina. I built green buildings all over the world, and I know plenty about that governor and will continue to work for sustainability across North Carolina. But when it comes to flooding and it comes to hurricanes, this is a human issue. This is not any bigger than that. There thousands of people across North Carolina down east right now that are still hurting that haven't been helped. After four years of your leadership in Raleigh, when I'm governor, we will make sure that these people are getting help. All right, gentlemen, we've covered a lot of ground tonight in the question and answer segment is now over. It's time for our closing statements. And by virtue of the coin tossed. Mr. Cooper, Mr. Forrest Rather, you get the first closing statement of 90 seconds, sir. Well, thank us. Uh, first, thanks to all the people in North Carolina for taking timeto watch tonight, I hope, uh, this helps you figure out your decision to who you want to vote for. For governor. I believe that we live in the greatest country in the world, the most innovative country in the world. I believe we can do two things at once. 5, 10 things at once. We can protect the vulnerable, and we can allow people to get back to their life again in North Carolina. I believe it's time to stop the fear and panic campaign and move on to hope and opportunity for people. I believe we need a governor that can cast a vision for the state of North Carolina. Governor Cooper has been here for 34 years, never had a vision for this state. I will cast division. Mine's gonna be based on unity, opportunity and possibility, creating unity for our our entire state to bring us together Opportunity for education and the economy. But we really need a governor that can ensure the people of North Carolina that we're gonna come through this stronger than ever before. I met a young man named Blake. He's a wounded warrior. When he was in the hospital recovering from his wounds, he was told he was never going to walk again. And the commanding officer came in the hospital and handed him a Purple Heart Challenge coin and said, Blake, you are going to walk again and you're going to come back stronger than ever before. When Blake told me this story, he said, I've been carrying that Purple Heart coin with me for eight years. He took it out of his pocket and he handed it to me and he said, I'm giving you this coin because I know that you give hope encouraged to the people of North Carolina, and you're gonna allow us to come back stronger than ever before Thank you so much. Thank you, Mr. For us. Mr Cooper, you're 92nd. Closing statement, please. At the beginning of the year, I had a lot of hope for North Carolina and 2020 has tested the depths of that hope. I'm sure for a lot of you out there with all of the natural disasters and the pandemic, it's been a tough time. But through it all, North Carolinians have been resilient. I've seen so many instances of people looking out for each other, singing at the window of a nursing home to a grandmother, young people buying groceries for seniors and leaving it on this doorstep. That's the kind of North Carolina that I know. But you do have a really choice. Tonight you have a governor who believes in science and a candidate who doesn't. You have a governor who believes in our public schools and a candidate who wants to short change them. You have a governor who believes that everybody ought tohave healthcare, and you have a candidate who wants to deny over half a million people the health care that they need. You have a candidate that values diversity and thinks diversity is our strength versus a candidate who wants to use diversity to divide us. The choice is clear. We need really leaders who are going to find riel solutions. I'm grateful to my wife, Kristin. I'm thankful to God. I'm grateful for my three daughters, Hillary, Natalie and Claire, my brother pill. I'm grateful for all North Carolinians out there who are working so hard, and I promise you we're going to create a North Carolina that works for everyone. Thank you. All right, gentlemen, that concludes tonight's debate, and many thanks to both men for a civil and engaging debate on behalf of all North Carolina citizens are thanks also to the North Carolina Broadcasters Association Educational Foundation and U. N C T V for providing the opportunity for the citizens of the Tar Heel state. Thank you for watching and please remember to vote goodnight and there you have it. Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and Republican Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest coronavirus dominated this conversation this debate. Roy Cooper saying he's used science to make decisions to try to save lives in North Carolina and Dan Forest, saying the lock down is causing more harm than good, especially talking about the people who are unemployed hurricanes, racism, education, other topics that to debated tonight. Standing by to offer analysis is MEREDITH College political science professor David McLennan. You can watch that right now on w r a l dot com, where you can also find your voter guide much more tonight as well. On our 10 o'clock news on Fox 50 and after the Billboard Awards on WRL Have a Great Night. Everyone Hello, everyone. I'm Deborah Morgan. We are live now on w or l dot com With POST DEBATE Analysis From tonight's gubernatorial debate between Democratic incumbent Governor Roy Cooper and Republican Challenger Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, I'm joined by David McLennan, political science professor at MEREDITH College. David, thank you so much for joining us. Always good to be with you, Deb. So very interesting, Roy Cooper. I feel that I saw compared with four years ago to tonight. What are your initial thoughts about this debate? David. Well, it's a very spirited debate. They covered a lot of issues. I think it was a very substantive debate. I thought viewers would see stark differences between the two candidates on many issues. Eso Overall, it was a good debate. I thought that Governor Cooper acted like he was 13 points behind instead of 13 points ahead in the polls. He was on the offensive from the very beginning from his opening statement, which I thought was a very interesting strategy. And I thought Dan Forest handled the attacks by the governor very well. You just talked about the results of the WRL news polls showing the governor actually increasing his lead over the past month. So talk about how you think tonight's debate might change how people go vote at the polls. Well, I think it's going to come down to how you view the pandemic. That was the bulk of the debate, and I think it's what most of the elections are gonna be based upon. So if you are on the side that the pandemic is very serious and we need to take MAWR health precautions than you'll probably still be in the governor's can. If you believe that maybe the pandemic is, uh, being oversold by the governor and that we do need to open the economy and take a few more risk than you're probably gonna be in Dan Forest camp. I really do think it's going to hinge on how people view the pandemic and the government's response to it. How much David in general, do you think these debates change people's minds? I mean, certainly We're looking at the national level about how, uh, the debate tactics, uh, seem to change, especially with the town hall format or one on one. How does a local election or a state statewide election like ours? How does a debate impact how people are able to see the candidates well compared to the national debates? The presidential debates where they don't matter all that much? Because people have already made up their minds. They have a lot of knowledge about President Trump or former vice President Biden in local races or state races like we're talking about here. Uh, people are less familiar with the candidates. Even the governor of North Carolina has been very visible this year. Ah, debate gives people an opportunity to see him in a very different environment. So I would say that the research tells us that down ballot races, governor's race, or even races further down the ballot debates may make some difference. But again, as you reference the WRL poll showed that you know a double digit lead for the governor with, uh, less than three weeks to Election Day. It z gonna be a challenge for Dan Forest to make up that difference even with a very solid debate. It was interesting because our poll also showed that the governor's support for his his ability to handle the crisis, that his coronavirus this year also dropped a little bit. Yet it was still over 50% support for the job he's doing. Although he did see a decline. Yeah, I think 50% approval now eight months into the government's initial response is very significant. I mean, you don't see 50% response for much of anything in politics anymore. And then about one third of North Carolinians disapprove of the governor's handling of the, um, pandemic. So I think it's the gap between the approval and disapproval that I'm sort of looking at saying, You know, I think you're still in solid ground. You know something else that you raised that I thought about two. We have seen the governor more on TV this year because of coronavirus. I think that we have in the history of North Carolina. Dan Forest has been lieutenant governor for eight years, but I wonder how visible he is, how much people really know about him or his politics. So do you think the debate tonight was a chance outside of the ads to be able to say, Here I am? Here's what I believe as Faras Dan Forest is concerned, and for the people who did too in, they probably got to see a very different vision of band Forest in a 32nd TV ad. Or, you know, for the few people that were able to go to his campaign events, you know, they have got one vision of him. But for a lot of North Carolinians, they got to see him for almost a now ER and back and forth with the governor hold his ground. Be very articulate. So it for people who have not already made up their minds for those undecided voters. For those who aren't quite sure, he could have made a very positive impression in this debate. David, we do have the Republican Party of North Carolina giving us a statement for what they think about the debate