Hunt decries gubernatorial attack ads
Posted April 28, 2008 4:20 p.m. EDT
Updated April 29, 2008 10:40 a.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — Former Gov. Jim Hunt said Monday that some negative television advertisements for Democratic gubernatorial candidates "crossed the line," and he urged candidates to focus on positive messages in the final week before the state's primary.
Hunt said he was troubled by ads State Treasurer Richard Moore rolled out last week, questioning Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue's commitment to civil rights. Moore and Perdue are the leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for governor.
One ad focuses on a 1987 bill giving the State Bureau of Investigation more authority to look into hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Perdue was one of two Democratic legislators to vote against the bill, which later became law. Her campaign last week called it "a misvote," noting she backed other civil rights legislation during the same session of the General Assembly.
The other ad linked Perdue to a Georgia company selling Confederate-themed items. Perdue's campaign called the ad "race-baiting" and noted she had been endorsed by a number of black lawmakers.
Hunt worked with Perdue when she was in the General Assembly and said she has backed a long list of minority causes through the years.
"She has spent a lifetime helping African-American children and adults, and to claim otherwise is just not right," he said.
Likewise, Hunt said, some of Perdue's former ads – she stopped running negative ads three weeks ago – were wrong to portray Moore as beholden to Wall Street investment banks because they contributed to his campaign while trying to manage pieces of the state pension fund. Moore served as secretary of the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety in Hunt's administration.
"Everybody's record is fair game, but this is the time to let people know, if you're governor, what you are going to do," Hunt said. "You want (people) to vote for you. What are you for? What are you going to do? What's your plan to build a better North Carolina?"
Hunt engaged in a bitter campaign for the U.S. Senate in 1984 against former Sen. Jesse Helms, and he is familiar with the bite attack ads carry. He said he finds it troubling that two qualified Democratic candidates would work so hard to tear each other down with negative ads instead of trying to push the state forward.
"(The election is time for) people to say, 'This is what we have decided to do. This is the candidate we think most represents that. We have voted for ourselves and our future,'" he said.
Moore campaign spokeswoman Julie White called the ads part of "a truthful campaign."
"(Perdue) has stated she has fought for civil rights all her life. The record shows that is clearly not the case," White said.
Hunt hasn't endorsed either Moore or Perdue in the campaign.