RALEIGH, N.C. — Incumbent North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) and North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest (R) faced off in a gubernatorial debate Wednesday, October 14, at 7 p.m. in Raleigh.
It was the first and only gubernatorial debate before the election.
The hour-long debate covered a variety of topics like the state budget, Medicaid, hurricane recovery, and more. The issue that took center stage, though, was the coronavirus and how the state should respond.
"We don't need a governor that treats us like five-year-olds, we need a governor that does protect us but not treat us like we're little kids," Forest said. "Masks aren't the solution to everything."
Cooper responded to the claims that masks aren't effective, saying his choices on the state's response are guided by science.
"While I'm using science and data to help make those decisions, Dan Forest is holding a press conference saying, 'We're going to fill all the classes back up immediately, we're not going to have any masks, no social distancing, and no safety measures,'" Cooper said. "That is dangerous and it is stunning to me that he would use children as political pawns during the middle of a pandemic."
Cooper was elected in 2016, defeating then-incumbent Pat McCrory (R), while Lt. Gov. Forest assumed office in January 2013.
North Carolina has gotten attention for opening at a slower pace than other states — even from President Donald Trump, who has previously called for the state to fully reopen. President Trump endorsed Forest for governor in an effort to unseat Cooper in November.