The communications staff of Gov. Bev Perdue continues to disagree with itself about where the state's chief executive was in the hours after deadly storms rolled through the state on Saturday.
UPDATE added below.
In a new statement issued on Monday, Perdue communications director took aim at an Under the Dome post from Sunday quoting deputy communications director Mark Johnson that the governor was at a Kentucky horse race Saturday afternoon.
"She wasn't actually at the race; state business brought her home early and she of course wanted to be here to help the state recover from the storms," Pearson said in an e-mail quoted by Politico's Ben Smith. "Don't believe everything you read in the N&O."
Pearson originally sent her statement to WWAY, a Wilmington television station.
Dome contacted Johnson on his cell phone on Sunday as he traveled with Perdue as she toured sections of the state devastated by the tornados. Asked where the governor had been Saturday afternoon, Johnson confirmed that she was in Lexington, Ky., visiting fellow Democratic Gov. Steve Beshear.
Asked if that didn't contradict Pearson's statement from the night before that the governor was out-of-state attending to a "family obligation," Johnson responded that his boss had spoken accurately because Perdue and Beshear are personal friends and that their families are also friendly.
At several points in the conversation, which was interrupted as Johnson's cell phone lost service, Perdue could be heard in the background interjecting what to say to the reporter.
Asked if Perdue had attended the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes, a thoroughbred horse race held Saturday afternoon, Johnson responded that he did not know and that he would ask the governor.
Johnson replied by text message a few moments later, at 1:29 p.m.: "Yes, went to race."
UPDATE: Pearson clarified Monday that the governor attended some of the earlier races at Keeneland race track on Saturday afternoon, but that Perdue left for the airport in Lexington well before the highest stakes No. 9 race, which started at 5:45 p.m.
Perdue and First Gentleman Bob Eaves had gone to Kentucky Friday night and Pearson said the governor had made the decision by Saturday morning, before the storms tore through the Triangle, to return to North Carolina early. They had originally planned to stay until Sunday, Pearson said.
"When it became clear from the emergency management standpoint that North Carolina could be in for a beating, the governor changed her plans, made plans to get back on the first flight she could get back, which was a late evening, late afternoon flight," Pearson said.
"She missed the big race. She was able to spend some time at the racetrack. And that's where the mincing of words comes in.
"But the bottom line is, the governor did what she felt was right, she came back to be in North Carolina, to be here where the state needed her and her leadership, and she would certainly do it again. And that's the price she pays as governor, that governors don't get much personal time," Pearson said.
As for not believing what you read in The N&O, Pearson agreed that the earlier Dome posts were factually accurate based on the information provided.
"It was just misleading (in) tone," she said.