Cal Cunningham dodges several questions during first news conference since sexting scandal

RALEIGH, N.C. — NC US Senate hopeful Cal Cunningham held a virtual news conference Friday days after admitting to sending sexts to a woman who is not his wife.

Cunningham started off the conference by going after his Republican opponent Sen. Thom Tillis for “gutting our state’s unemployment” and for “walking away from negotiations” for COVID-19 relief.

“Instead of fighting for the interests of North Carolinians, Senator Tillis is looking out for his own interests,” he said.

Cunningham was joined by Grant Welch, Legislative Chairman for Communications Workers Of America Local 3611, Lynne Mason, a small business owner from Boone and North Carolina Association of Educators President Tamika Walker Kelly. They all spoke about COVID-19′s impact on communities across the state.

After community leaders spoke, Cunningham opened up the floor for questions, where he was asked about the sex scandal by four different reporters.

Channel 9′s political reporter Joe Bruno was one of them.

“Are there more women?” asked Bruno.

Cunningham responded by saying, North Carolinians are tired of hearing about “personal issues.”

He did address the scandal at one point, saying that he has taken responsibility for the hurt he has caused. He also said his campaign is about things that are much more important than him and his personal life.

“I have taken responsibility for the hurt I have caused in my personal life. I have apologized for it. I have apologized to the supporters of the campaign and now this campaign is about much more,” Cunningham said.

North Carolina’s intensely competitive U.S. Senate race has been upended by personal and health disruptions.

News broke of Cunningham’s extramarital affair last Friday. The National File obtained sext messages from the Democrat to Arlene Guzman Todd, a California strategist. In an interview with The Associated Press, Todd said she and Cunningham had an affair and were intimate as recently as July.

Cunningham, a Lieutenant Colonel, is now under an Army Reserve investigation.

Cunningham publicly apologized for his involvement in the scandal during a brief live speech Wednesday at a virtual North Carolina League of Conservation Voters Green Tie Awards event.

Also last Friday, Cunningham’s opponent Tillis announced he had tested positive for COVID-19, forcing him to cancel in-person events less than five weeks until Election Day.

Tillis for Senate campaign manager Luke Blanchat issued the following statement after Cal Cunningham’s virtual news conference:

“Cal Cunningham’s refusal to answer questions makes him unfit for office. The Cal Cunningham of just a week ago was making his personal life the cornerstone of his campaign, but now that the real Cal Cunningham has been exposed, he no longer believes questions about his personal life are relevant. Cunningham was asked four times whether he engaged in extramarital affairs in addition to the one that the media has already confirmed, and he refused to deny it each time. North Carolinians deserve a full explanation from Cunningham on his misconduct, which he is clearly unwilling to provide. Cunningham is a complete hypocrite who today demonstrated that he has no character, no honor, and no business representing North Carolina in the United States Senate. Reporters should continue pushing Cunningham for answers -- because, as the old Cal Cunningham used to say, the truth still matters in North Carolina.”