Friday, October 15, 2004

The debate has ended

Be sure to vote on or before Nov. 2.

Ballantine ethics question

Ballantine: "We are permitted to do some business at our legislative building... This is an absolute smear campaign."

Easley: "I didn't know about it until I read about it in The News & Observer."

Easley accused Ballantine of "shaking down lobbyists."

For background on this issues, read the N&O story online.

Name two positive attributes of your opponent

1. Support governor on tough decisions on clemency
2. "He and his wife are not bad people." He has scandals around him, though.

1. Voting for teacher pay increases in '98, '99, '00. Regret he didnt do it in '01, '02 and '03
2. I like Lisa (Ballantine's wife).

In regard to Ballantine's answer to the question, Easley said it was akin to telling someone, "For a fat guy, you don't sweat too much."

More candidate positions

Easley: "I do not favor it. I have fought it."
Ballantine: "That's my position exactly."

Quick responses to several issues

Easley: Yes. Started turnpike commission.
Ballantine: Reluctantly supports toll roads.

Easley: "Absolutely not." Drains funds from public schools.
Ballantine: "I do not support vouchers."

Easley: No
Ballantine: No

Easley: No
Ballantine: No

More on immigration...

In response to Crabtree's question....

Easley: Supports allowing local sheriff's departments to help enforce immigration laws.

Ballantine: Agrees. "We need to be fighting terrorism. We need to be fighting illegal immigration."

Has immigration been good for NC?

Ballantine: "I support immigrants, but they need to be legal." Voted against bill to make it easier for immigrants to get driver's licenses. Illegal immigrants are draining resources.

Easley: Need to give everyone a chance if they agree to play by the rules. "He's (Ballantine is) blaming me for 9/11 now." Easley said it was not fair that he was being criticized for being soft on immigration issues, which are really a federal matter.

State employees and raises

Easley doesn't think Ballantine can fund promised raises for state employees. "I want to give state employees a fair raise... but I am not going to lie to them." Raise will cost $1.5 billion, and has pledged cutting taxes to the tune of $1.2 billion.

Ballantine: When in General Assembly, I did try to amend budget to give teachers and state employees a pay raise, but it was defeated.

Ballantine says he can find $1 billion in cost savings in state government to help fund pay raises.

Tobacco tax increase?

Crabtree: Why not raise tax now that quota buyout has been passed by Congress?

Ballantine: Does not think taxes should be raised.

Easley: Yes, raising taxes would help curb teen smoking. And yes, it would help with health care costs associated with smoking. But there's not enough support in the General Assembly for a tax increase to pass.

HIV/AIDS treatment for the poor

Crabtree: Should N.C. make it easier for the poor to get drugs to treat HIV/AIDS?

Easley: "I don't think we have the money to do that right now."

Ballantine: "We do need to raise the threshhold there."

Next question: public health and budget shortfalls

Crabtree: Would you cut Medicaid?

Ballantine: No. Just need to modernize the system.

Easley: "We have the software. It is effective. It is in place."

Ballantine response on lottery question

"He's the tax and spender. I'm the fiscal conservative." Ballantine believes he can wring savings out of state government.

Easley and lottery for education

Can you guarantee that lottery proceeds will go to education, Crabree asks. Yes. To make progress in education, we're going to need an additional revenue source. We're losing money to other states, he says. Wants to use money to reduce class size and help local governments with school construction.

Ballantine and lottery

Ballantine: A lottery is bad public policy. Says he would veto lottery bill if approved by the General Assembly. "It would generate less than 1 percent of our annual state revenues."

Easley response

Easley said he had a hole to dig out of because of big spending before he took office. Ballantine's history has been spending in good times, Easley said.

To Ballantine: Could you see a need to increase taxes in next four years if elected

Absolutely not, Ballantine says.

Ballantine Response

Yes, we raised teacher pay and put $500 million in a rainy-day fund. "That was good smart fiscal policy."

Easley inherited a recession, just like George W. Bush. But Bush has cut taxes and Easley has not.

Easley response to tax question

EASLEY: Budget he inherited was four years of growth of 42 percent, highest growth in decades. Ballantine was part of that. Ballantine voted for three straight budgets that increased spending $800 million each year. Easley said he had to find $1.5 billion to cut in 5 months.

"The budget is now balanced, and I am pleased we are where we are."

First question goes to Easley

The question is about taxes. Crabtree: Should it be the dominant campaign issue?

Crabtree explains format

The debate will last one hour. Questions will be directed to candidates on an alternating basis. No strict time limits are being followed. No opening statements, but one-minute closing statements.

The setting

The candidates are seated at a table, close to one another, across from Crabtree, the moderator.

Photo op time

The candidates are now posing for photographs before the debate gets under way. Only the candidates and moderator will be in the room once the debate begins. Reporters and campaign staff will be watching the debate on video monitors in a nearby studio.

The governor has arrived

Mike Easley is now in Studio A and is getting ready for his debate with Patrick Ballantine.

Check back for real-time reporting

This second debate between Democratic Gov. Mike Easley and Republican challenger Patrick Ballantine is scheduled to begin at 2:30 p.m. It is being held in Studio A of WRAL-TV in Raleigh. The debate is being taped without interruption and will air tonight at 7 p.m. on WRAL and on other stations throughout the state.

This blog will report in real time on the exchanges between modertator David Crabtree and the two candidates.