State Politics

Gov. Pat McCrory offers tepid endorsement of Donald Trump, while Roy Cooper backs Hillary Clinton

Gov. Pat McCrory
Gov. Pat McCrory Raleigh

Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday that he plans to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Asked by a News & Observer reporter if he’ll support Trump – the presumptive Republican nominee – McCrory said “yes” and didn’t immediately elaborate further.

Asked why he thinks Trump is the best candidate, McCrory said “I’ve stated that I would support the Republican nominee. Anything else?”

McCrory’s Democratic opponent, attorney general Roy Cooper, endorsed Hillary Clinton on Tuesday. She secured enough delegates for her party’s nomination Monday night.

“Yes, Attorney General Cooper will support Secretary Clinton for president,” Cooper campaign spokesman Jamal Little said in an email. “He believes a Trump-McCrory ticket is bad for both our state and our country. We need thoughtful leaders who will work to move our state and country forward, not pull us apart with dangerous rhetoric and an extreme political agenda.”

The N.C. Republican Party has been pushing Cooper to talk about Clinton. It planned to hold a news conference later Tuesday outside an event where Cooper is scheduled to speak.

“Roy Cooper and North Carolina Democrats know that Hillary Clinton will be a drag on their hopes for victory in the Tar Heel state so they are now fleeing from her campaign,” NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes said in a recent news release.

Cooper had stopped short of endorsing Clinton in a recent interview with The Daily Dispatch of Henderson. “We are running our race right now, and we are going to let the Democratic primary run its course,” he told the paper. “One thing I do know is we don’t need Donald Trump as president, that’s for sure.”

Cooper made those comments before Clinton was declared the presumptive Democratic nominee by several news organizations Monday night.

Democrats pounced on McCrory’s endorsement of Trump, seeking to tie the governor to his controversial statements. A news release from the N.C. Democratic Party pointed to Trump’s calls for the judge in the Trump University case to step aside because his Mexican heritage, Trump says, is a conflict of interest.

“Trump just said that non-white judges can’t be impartial – and Pat McCrory wants him to be president,” the party’s executive director, Kimberly Reynolds, said in news release. “Does Gov. McCrory back this unabashedly racist rhetoric? The governor’s refusal to denounce Donald Trump’s un-American rhetoric proves that for Pat McCrory, politics always comes first.”

McCrory was not asked about Trump’s comments on the judge Tuesday. He told reporters he was pressed for time and only took one question from each reporter present.

The Republican Governors Association criticized Cooper’s support for Clinton. “His endorsement of Hillary Clinton shows that his top priority is electing Barack Obama for a third term,” RGA spokesman Jon Thompson said in a news release. “Cooper’s choice to align himself with Hillary Clinton’s lack of transparency and shady tactics, which have led to an FBI investigation, demonstrates that he is craving four more years of Barack Obama’s destructive leadership.”

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter