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Candidates spar over North Carolina’s bathroom bill in governor’s debate

Governor Pat McCrory defends Trump, says Caitlyn Jenner would have to use men’s shower

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

north-carolina mugRALEIGH (CFP) — Facing off in a debate less than a month before voters go to the polls, Republican Governor Pat McCrory and his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, sparred over a series of controversial laws passed by North Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature, in particular a controversial measure that requires transgendered people to use bathrooms and shower facilities that conform with their birth gender in public facilities.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

In the October 12 debate, sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and airing on UNC-TV, the governor also continued to defend his endorsement of Donald Trump after video surfaced on October 7 in which the Republican presidential nominee made braggadocious comments about being allowed to grab women’s genitals because of his celebrity.

“Mr. Trump needs to have his mouth washed out with soap, but so does Mrs. Clinton,” McCrory said.

In response, Cooper said that “it’s hard to believe that Governor McCrory continues to support a presidential candidate who condones sexual assault.”

“Governor McCrory and Donald Trump are a lot alike. They both have trouble with the facts, and they both engage in divisive rhetoric.”

McCrory, who has come under national criticism for HB 2, the so-called bathroom bill, defended his support for the law, saying that it was the result of “a major change in culture” initiated by city officials in Charlotte, who had passed a measure outlawing discrimination against transgendered people that HB 2 overturned.

“We never brought this issue up. It was the mayor of Charlotte, with strong support from the attorney general,” the governor said. “It wasn’t called for. It was the liberals that brought it up.”

But Cooper called for the law’s repeal, saying that “it writes discrimination into our law, and it has been a disaster for our economy.”

“This legislation was passed in one day and signed in the middle of the night. And Governor McCrory continues to go across the state telling people that this is not hurting our economy,” Cooper said. “Governor, what planet are you on?”

In response to the passage of the bathroom bill, a number of businesses have cancelled plans to move or expand in North Carolina, and the NBA, NCAA and ACC have all pulled events from the Tar Heel State.

McCrory was asked by the debate’s moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd, if the law would force Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic athlete and the nation’s best-known transgendered women, to use men’s bathroom facilities.

The governor said that while private businesses had the right to decide that for themselves under state law, “If she’s going to shower at a facility at UNC-Chapel Hill after running around the track, she’s going to use the men’s shower. ”

Recent polls in the race have shown Cooper with a slight lead.

Here is the full video of the October 11 debate.

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