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Drilling an issue in debate

McCrory, Perdue also face off over vouchers

Published: September 10, 2008

RALEIGH

Democrat Bev Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory clashed sharply over offshore drilling and school vouchers last night in the most contentious debate so far between the two major candidates for governor.

The two also accused each other of changing positions on key issues and using misleading attacks to diminish the tone of a campaign that, with eight weeks to go before the general election, is turning increasingly negative.

Outside groups have pumped millions of dollars into the race, mostly on television ads that attack either Perdue or McCrory. When pressed by the moderators of last night's debate, Perdue and McCrory both said that they "don't like" the third-party ads, but neither candidate directly called for the groups to stop running them.

Perdue, who is the state's lieutenant governor, and McCrory, who is the mayor of Charlotte, wasted no time in directly engaging each other. The first question of the night — on how each candidate would improve the economy — led to an extended altercation about whether North Carolina should support drilling for oil and natural gas off its coast.

McCrory strongly supports offshore drilling. Perdue said in June and July that she opposes it, but then shifted positions to say that she would be willing to support it if it could be shown to be safe. She also maintains that she has always supported offshore drilling in other areas — such as in the Gulf of Mexico — where oil companies already have drilling rights. (more…)