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Dem hopefuls argue issues, criticize absent opponent

Debate covers differing ideas for economy

MARK JOHNSON

mjohnson@charlotteobserver.com

Two Democratic candidates for governor reached immediate agreement at a Tuesday night debate — criticizing the third for skipping the forum.

State Treasurer Richard Moore and retired Air Force Col. Dennis Nielsen politely disagreed over road money, corporate incentives and free community-college tuition. Both, however, criticized Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue for missing the debate to be broadcast Sunday as an edition of the TV show "NC Spin."

Perdue was represented by an empty chair on the set, and host Tom Campbell repeatedly noted that she had been invited.

Perdue spokesman David Kochman said time constraints prevented her from participating.

During a rapid-fire round of questioning, Moore talked about his proposal for two free years of community-college tuition for high school graduates, as part of an overall effort to improve students' job opportunities and boost the economy. While Nielsen was equally supportive of the schools' role in job training, he disagreed with giving away tuition. (more…)