by: Jason Stoogenke Updated:
DURHAM, N.C. - The two men running for North Carolina governor had their first debate Wednesday night.
Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory went head to head in Durham.
McCrory, a Republican, came into the debate with a double-digit lead in the polls. While he tried to protect that lead, Dalton, a Democrat, went on the attack, maybe more than he would have otherwise.
Once again, Dalton called for McCrory to make his tax returns public, unsuccessfully. McCrory said,
"I paid what was required by the IRS and the IRS has never questioned my tax returns," McCrory said.
They also got heated over the Dalton ad WSOC reported on last week. It says McCrory doesn't understand the African-American experience. Some view it as a desperate attempt to inject race into this race. McCrory called it "inexcusable."
When Dalton responded, saying, "If he finds this offensive, it is because he has offended," McCrory laughed disapprovingly.
"You can laugh mayor if you want to," Dalton said.
McCrory said, "Oh, boy," McCrory said.
They also talked more than expected about bipartisanship. Both candidates tried to show they can work across the aisle, especially now that as many as 20 percent of Democrats seem to be backing McCrory.
Dalton mentioned legislation that took bipartisan support and McCrory mentioned Charlotte's LYNX light rail system, something he advocated vigorously despite heavy criticism from conservatives.
McCrory said, "I've stepped on the toes of both the right and the left."
After the debate, McCrory said he threw more punches than maybe he planned.
"Listen, I'm an old mayor. I fight back," he smiled.
Dalton admitted playing catch-up, at least for now. He said, "We're on a restart right now. I see his
tail lights and we're coming at him."
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