U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis danced around a question about his recent appointments of big donors to UNC posts and tried to pivot to attack Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan.
In an interview with CQ/Roll Call posted online Thursday, Tillis faced a question about a News & Observer report that showed major donors to his campaign getting seats on the UNC Board of Governors. Tillis called the storyline "tired old arguments" and his appointees "some of the greatest people in North Carolina."
"It is disingenuous at the very best probably misleading or dishonest in reality because (Democrats) did it at levels that we would never allow," Tillis said.
In a line of attack likely to be repeated this campaign cycle, Tillis tried to link Hagan, a former state lawmaker, to the Democratic Party's ethical issues in recent years. "The first term that I was there we had three Democratic members go to jail because they pushed the issue too far," he said. "You haven't seen that in three three years that we've been in power and they are trying to fabricate something."
Whether the line works is questionable given ethical troubles linked to Tillis, from his former Chief of Staff Charles Thomas to his top lieutenant Stephen LaRoque, who was found guilty of taking federal dollars for personal enrichment.
Tillis also declined to term limit himself if elected. The Cornelius Republican is retiring from the N.C. House at the end of 2014 after four terms, or eight years — a limit he put on himself when elected in 2006.
"I don't anticipate myself being up here when I'm in my 80s," pointing out that he would be 54 next year. But he said if elected, Tillis said he would likely seek a second term and then re-evaluate.
Tillis declined to say he would vote for Mitch McConnell for Senate Majority Leader if Republicans win control next November. Tillis said McConnell has "done great stuff" and "he has got a legitimate claim" for the post. But Tillis added that he's "not going to get into that parlor game" about who should be the party's leader. "I don't measure the drapes," he said.