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WTVD to livestream Democratic gubernatorial debate tonight sans Dalton

Two of the three Democratic candidates for governor will debate tonight at WTVD.

Former Congressman Bob Etheridge and state Rep. Bill Faison will participate in the debate, but Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, citing a scheduling conflict, will not.

The one-hour debate be live streamed over the Internet at 7 p.m. tonight on ABC.com and broadcast on a delayed basis at 7 p.m. on Saturday night.

The three Democrats will participate in three live debates next week.

Dome's Take: Perdue's missed opportunity

Is Beverly Perdue a bad debater?

Democratic consultant Gary Pearce said allowing her to debate five times was "political malfeasance." Charlotte Observer columnist Jack Betts said Republican Pat McCrory is "more polished." WUNC reporter Laura Leslie said debates "aren't Perdue's strongest suit."

Dome's take: The format makes the difference.

McCrory has clearly outshined Perdue in sit-down debates that allowed more back-and-forth between the candidates, such as the recent debates on WRAL and WTVD.

But the two are more evenly matched in formal settings with podiums and timers, such as the recent debate at the SAS Institute. Perdue excelled in that type of setting during her primary debates against Richard Moore.

Their backgrounds may help explain that. As Betts noted, Perdue has presided over the Senate for eight years. It's a place where formality reigns. Parliamentary rules determine the course of the debate and legislators take turns giving short speeches.

City council meetings are much more informal. Mayors and council members typically sit, discussion is more freewheeling and thinking on your feet is a virtue. Typically, only the city attorney keeps careful track of Robert's Rules of Orders.

In addition, state legislators rarely debate during their campaigns, while McCrory has faced a number of televised debates in his biennial campaigns for mayor.

In short, the more the debate is like the Senate, the better Perdue does. But when it's more like a City Council meeting, McCrory tends to win the day.

If we're right, then Perdue's decision to skip the UNC-TV debate tonight — a formal debate that will be aired statewide — was a strategic mistake.

Claims Dept: the RGA's 2nd ad

The Republican Governors Association is running its second TV ad in North Carolina this election. Like the first, it criticizes Democrat Beverly Perdue and the "status quo" in Raleigh.

What the ad says: A narrator speaks while the ad shows a series of black-and-white images: a woman looking out a window, trees with no leaves, men with blank expressions, a Chinese flag. In the bottom right appears a red "status quo" button – a take-off on an ad campaign for office supplies.

Narrator: "North Carolina faces an economic crisis, and for 21 years Bev Perdue has simply pushed the status quo. Perdue presided over $6 billion in new taxes – voted to increase the gas and sales tax. Now North Carolinians have the largest-growing tax burden in the country – the nation's third-worst unemployment growth – 80,000 jobs lost to China. So what's status quo Bev's plan for the future?"

The ad ends with a quote from Perdue during a recent TV debate: "I would do exactly what's been done before."

The background: The ad raises two issues – taxes and jobs – and it argues Perdue will continue existing state policies.

TAXES: Perdue represented the New Bern area in the state legislature from 1987 until 2001. She has since served as lieutenant governor, a position where she presides over the N.C. Senate. She can vote only in the case of a tie, so her role in tax changes since 2001 has been only procedural.

The Republican Governors Association says the "$6 billion in new taxes" figure is the amount raised by new taxes imposed from 2001 through 2006. Almost half of that came from two temporary taxes that lawmakers and Gov. Mike Easley imposed because of a 2001 budget crisis: an extra half-cent sales tax and a new upper-income tax bracket. (In 2007, lawmakers eliminated the upper-income tax bracket and made permanent a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax.) The rest came from more than 60 other tax changes.

Easley and lawmakers have also cut taxes since 2001. In the 1990s, when Perdue was a legislator and a lead budget writer, lawmakers and Gov. Jim Hunt cut or eliminated some taxes.

The RGA cites at least three instances in which Perdue "voted to increase the gas and sales tax": a 1989 law that raised the gas tax about five cents a gallon to pay for road improvements; a 1991 law that raised the gas tax a half cent a gallon to pay for the cleanup of underground storage tanks; and a 1991 law that raised the statewide sales tax from 5 percent to 6 percent.

Perdue has also voted for tax cuts, including the elimination of the state sales tax on food in the 1990s.

The RGA says the claim about the "largest-growing tax burden in the country" is based on an April 12, 2007, article from The Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. The article says "North Carolina's tax burden rank has seen the largest increase of any state since 2000," jumping from the 36th highest state-local tax burden in 2000 to the 19th highest.

The article, though, is based on outmoded methodology. According to the foundation's revised data, North Carolina's tax burden rank was 20th – not 36th – in 2000. It has since fluctuated between 17th and 22nd, and in 2008 it is again 20th.

A foundation spokesman has apologized for the confusion and an economist there says the newer methodology is more accurate.

JOBS: The phrase "the nation's third-worst unemployment growth" refers to a recent report that North Carolina's jobless rate rose from 5.9 percent in June to 6.6 percent in July. Only two other states, South Carolina and Mississippi, had larger gains during that one-month time period. Over a different time period – one year, for example – the ranking might be different.

The figure "80,000 jobs lost to China" has its origin in a July 30 report from the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. The left-leaning group says North Carolina lost 79,800 jobs to China between 2001 and 2007, more than all but seven other states.

In a 24-page report, the institute blames Chinese currency manipulation and the differences in Chinese and U.S. labor laws, among other reasons.

North Carolina Democrats, including Gov. Mike Easley, have repeatedly blamed federal trade policies for the job losses. Republicans have been more likely to blame state taxes, which they argue are too high.

THE QUOTE: The ad's final line, a Perdue quote, is from the Aug. 19 gubernatorial debate on WTVD in Durham. She was discussing how she would gather scientific advice on offshore oil drilling.

A fuller quote: "And I believe secondly that they must allow states to have the individual decision about what they're going to do in their state on drilling. I would do exactly what's been done before. I will listen to a team of engineers and scientists and ask them to tell me very quickly, to assess the new technology that's come since Governor Martin did the same thing in the late '80s."

Is it accurate? For the most part, no. Much of the ad either misstates or exaggerates Perdue's role, or takes her words out of context.

Perdue "presided" over tax increases in the sense that she held the gavel and helped record senators' votes, but her role was procedural. She did not propose the increases or vote on them.

Perdue did vote to increase the gas and sales taxes. She also voted to cut sales taxes.

The evidence that North Carolina's tax burden is the country's "largest-growing" is outmoded.

The ad's claims about jobs are accurate statements about North Carolina's economic health. There is no direct evidence to tie those losses to Perdue.

The quote about offshore oil drilling is taken out of context. To describe it as "Bev's plan for the future" is misleading.

– David Ingram

Where is that Perdue quote from?

A new ad from the Republican Governors Association ends with a video clip of Beverly Perdue saying the following:

"I would do exactly what's been done before."

The ad suggests that the quote is evidence the Democratic nominee for governor would follow the Raleigh "status quo" on issues such as taxes and jobs.

So what exactly was Perdue talking about when she said that? Getting scientific advice on offshore oil drilling.

Here's a fuller quote, from the Aug. 19 debate on WTVD in Durham.

And I believe secondly that they must allow states to have the individual decision about what they're going to do in their state on drilling. I would do exactly what's been done before. I will listen to a team of engineers and scientists and ask them to tell me very quickly, to assess the new technology that's come since Governor Martin did the same thing in the late '80s. The world has changed so much and things may be very different, but I want to be responsible and know for sure that if we drill off the coast of North Carolina we can do it safely.

The video is available on TheDomeCam.

McCrory takes on the Kingfish

Pat McCrory clarified his criticism of Louisiana today.

In previous speeches and debates, the Republican gubernatorial candidate has compared recent scandals in North Carolina state politics to Louisiana.

"I want to make sure we're not like Louisiana," he said at a WTVD debate in mid August. "I want to bring back good government to North Carolina. And that starts at the executive branch right here in Raleigh."

This morning, McCrory rode on a bus tour with former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer.

Coincidentally or not, he amended his speech line during a gubernatorial forum on ethics in downtown Raleigh around noon.

He spoke about an "ethical breakdown" in state government over the last eight years, saying they "more resemble Huey Long Louisiana politics than the good government we've always been proud of."

Long was governor and senator in Louisiana in the 1920s and 1930s; Roemer in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Perdue uses old debate against McCrory

Beverly Perdue used one of Pat McCrory's old debates against him.

During the WTVD debate tonight, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate referred to something McCrory said during an April 10 debate in the Republican primary.

"My opponent says that children's health care insurance sends the wrong signal," she said. "I don't understand that."

At the debate, McCrory said that government health care was encouraging teen-agers to get pregnant "in a way" because "they know they're going to get free medical care for their children."

"We're sending the wrong signals by our government programs right now," he said during the Republican debate.

During tonight's debate, McCrory said he did not what Perdue was talking about.

"I don't know where she got that quote from and I look forward to seeing it some day and I'm sure it's out of context like many of the negative ads ... from national Washington groups and labor unions," he said.

Reminded by a reporter afterward, McCrory said that he was talking about preventive measures for teen pregnancies in that quote, noting that he's heard from kids he's mentored that they see pregnancy as "a way out."

"I in no way meant that I would want to take away health insurance from children," he said.

McCrory links Perdue to Easley

Pat McCrory is trying to tie Gov. Mike Easley around Beverly Perdue's neck.

At several points during a debate on WTVD in Durham tonight, the Republican gubernatorial candidate tried to link the current governor and the lieutenant governor who was sitting next to him.

The references grew steadily in intensity, with McCrory making a few references to problems in the "current administration and the current leadership" on mental health reform and immigration.

At other times, he referred to a general culture of corruption in Raleigh.

He first mentioned Easley by name about halfway through the debate after a direct question from the moderators about recent criticism of Easley, portraying himself as a more open and accessible governor.

Perdue made no mention of Easley during the debate, but afterward she told reporters that McCrory was misrepresenting her position in state government.

As an separately elected lieutenant governor with mostly formal duties in the Senate, Perdue said that she was an "independent agent" in state government who freelanced for the governor on education, health care and protecting the state's military bases. 

"I'm not a part of the Cabinet or administration," she said.  

Gubernatorial debate a 'Wipeout'?

The gubernatorial debate was a wipeout.

Well, not really. But that's what the TV listings say for tonight at 8 p.m. on WTVD — "Wipeout."

Here's a synopsis from an online TV guide:

In this new reality competition, 24 contestants try to navigate an extreme obstacle course that has been designed to provoke an unprecedented number of crashes, face plants and wipeouts, with one competitor taking home a $50,000 prize each week.

Come to think of it, that does sound a bit like a debate, except for the part about the prize money, which would be above the campaign finance limit. 

McCrory: Perdue slippery on oil

Pat McCrory took another swipe at Beverly Perdue over offshore oil drilling.

The Republican gubernatorial nominee used a lunch speech before a commercial real estate and construction group in Cary to drum his message that Perdue, the Democratic nominee, has flip-flopped on offshore drilling, Mark Johnson reports.

Perdue in June said she was "100 percent opposed" to drilling off North Carolina's coast but last week said she would appoint an independent panel of scientists and engineers to help decide.

McCrory quipped that he doesn’t know where she stands.

"I guess I’ll find out tonight," he said referring to a planned debate to be broadcast at 8 p.m. on WTVD-TV in the Raleigh-Durham market.

McCrory addressed the Raleigh area chapter of the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties and the Triangle Community Coalition.

Perdue commits to five debates

Beverly Perdue has committed to five debates.

The Democratic gubernatorial nominee said today that she would appear at five events before the November election, including three in the Triangle:

June 21: N.C. Bar Association, Atlantic Beach

Aug. 19: WTVD, Durham

Sept. 9: WRAL/Capitol Broadcasting, Raleigh

Sept. 19: Public School Forum on Education/Everybody's Business Coalition, Cary

Oct. 15: Charlotte-Mecklenburg League of Women Voters/ WSOC/WTVI, Charlotte

"I look forward to the debates and the opportunity to have a real discussion about the issues facing North Carolina," she said in a statement.

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