Under the Dome

McCrory, Cooper agree on debates

North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper and Republican incumbent Pat McCrory.
North Carolina Attorney General, Roy Cooper and Republican incumbent Pat McCrory. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

North Carolina’s Republican and Democratic candidates for governor say they will agree to debate each other at least twice.

Attorney General Roy Cooper on Wednesday sent out an announcement saying he has accepted invitations to participate in two live debates and two public forums, and invited Gov. Pat McCrory to join him.

In response, McCrory’s campaign said the governor not only plans to participate in two of the events Cooper proposed, but wants to debate Cooper on live TV at least four times before the November general election.

McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz said the campaign is evaluating invitations to forums, which generally do not have more than one candidate on stage at the same time, but the governor would attend a N.C. Bar Association and N.C. Association of Broadcasters events.

“I encourage Gov. McCrory to join me for these discussions, and look forward to a thoughtful debate on the issues that matter most to North Carolinians,” Cooper said in a statement his campaign released.

“Not only will Gov. McCrory debate Roy Cooper,” Diaz said in an email, “we challenge Roy Cooper to come out of hiding and release his public schedule like the governor does so the press knows where he is on a daily basis and they can ask him questions about his position on issues.”

The first event that Cooper singled out is next Wednesday at what has been billed as candidate conversations before an audience of entrepreneurs in Durham. An earlier announcement indicated the “Innovation Economy” event would include an interview with Cooper.

The announcement indicated McCrory, Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr and Democratic challenger Deborah Ross have also been invited to participate in similar interviews.

The event is hosted by ExitEvent, which is a forum owned by Capitol Broadcasting Co., which owns WRAL-TV. It works with start-up firms at the American Underground space in Durham.

The other events Cooper mentioned are a June 24 N.C. Bar Association candidates forum in Charlotte, an Oct. 18 live debate hosted by WRAL in Raleigh, and a date to be determined live debate hosted by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters.