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Politics

A Shift In Tone But Not Stance, McCrory Talks HB2 Boycotts In Charlotte

Governor Pat McCrory speaking at the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club in Charlotte
Tom Bullock
/
WFAE

House Bill 2 was on the mind of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton  during a campaign stop Wednesday afternoon at UNC-Greensboro.

"I’m running for the LGBT teenager here in North Carolina, who sees your governor sign a bill legalizing discrimination, and suddenly feels like a second class citizen," Clinton said to applause.

Meanwhile, with this week’s announcement of college championship boycotts from both the NCAA and ACC still fresh, Governor Pat McCrory paid a visit to a group of Charlotte business leaders.

The governor addressed those decisions and his views on House bill 2, which caused the boycotts. But McCrory’s tone was more telling than his answers.

McCrory began his remarks to the Hood Hargett Breakfast Club by saying this appearance has long been on his schedule, but "I didn’t anticipate walking into the firestorm that continues to be directed to our state." In response to HB 2.

Then, McCrory told the crowd to, in essence, buckle up or head on home. "If you’re expecting a politically correct speech or you want a politically correct speech, you might need to walk out right now."

The governor then shifted to talk about what he sees as a positive for the state – the economy. His 'Carolina Comeback.' "North Carolina has, right now, the fourth fastest growing economy in the United States of America."

Then McCrory pivoted. "The definition of politics by many is the art of diversion, and there are some people who want to divert attention away from the incredible success that we’re having here in North Carolina."

And here’s where McCrory’s tone is telling.

In the past, boycotts have earned his ire.

After the NBA pulled the All Star Game from Charlotte, the governor derided the elites - sports elites, media elites, business elites - for what he said was their hypocrisy for still doing business and playing games in countries like China.

This day, there was some of the promised tough talk about HB 2, "It’s not going to be resolved by the North Carolina legislature," McCrory said, "It’s not going to be resolved by the city of Charlotte. It’s not going to be resolved by the NCAA or ACC, who meet in private behind closed doors. With no transcripts of what they’ve done."

But then McCrory’s tone changed. It seemed conciliatory. His words asked for patience.

This debate over gender identity, McCrory said will only be settled by one group. "It’s going to be decided by the Supreme Court and it deserves to be decided by the Supreme Court because it’s a very, very complex issue."

That doesn’t mean McCrory is ready to call a special session to repeal the law.

When asked if he could go back in time and do anything differently during the 12 hours HB 2 went from bill to law, McCrory answered only he wished he could have done more to stop the Charlotte City Council from passing its expanded non-discrimination ordnance in the first place. Which, Republicans say, is why HB 2 was needed.

When asked at what point would he support taking another look at changes to HB 2, McCrory said he’s tried. "I had a compromise deal with the Charlotte City Council probably four or five months ago and your mayor killed it."

The Charlotte City Council voted it down back in May.

McCrory continued. "I had a compromise deal with the NBA and I had some people in my party and the attorney general kill it."

For the record, the NBA said the proposed changes to HB 2 that were circulated earlier this year would not go far enough.   

As for the attorney general, Democrat Roy Cooper is, of course, running against McCrory for the governor’s office. He has called for HB 2 to be repealed.

Cooper himself talks to the same group of Charlotte business leaders next week.