RALEIGH – Governor Roy Cooper is probably feels even better about his campaign’s refusal to agree to more debates with Republican challenger Dan Forest. That’s because, despite Cooper’s aggressive approach and fomented indignation, Forest calmly wiped the floor with him on Wednesday night.
The debate topics and areas of focus were predictable ones: the handling of Pandemic Panic, face masks, school closures, education, culture wars, and more.
Right out of the gate, Cooper was chomping at the bit to label Forest “reckless” for opposing mask mandates, business closures, and school closures. Cooper at first appeared more aggressive, starting on offense, and intent on tying up Forest with a poll-tested attack vector.
“Tonight’s different because of the plexiglass separating Dan Forest and me. It is there because for the last eight months, including last night, Dan Forest has been having in-person events with no masks or social distancing. That’s reckless, and it endangers North Carolinians, including the staff in this room.”
Yet, as the debate continued, Forest was unfazed. While Cooper, at times, was nearly foaming at the mouth, Forest was cool and confident, wearing an inviting smile, and speaking to viewers like adults. Indeed, Forest said, on the issue of mask mandates and lockdown restrictions, that citizens ought not be treated like five year olds.
“It should be a personal responsibility choice. It doesn’t need to be a governor’s mandate. We don’t need a governor that treats us like 5-year-olds. We need a governor that does protect us, but not treat us like we’re little kids. Masks aren’t the solution to everything.”
Forest pointed out, correctly, that the mask mandate did nothing to slow the rise in ‘cases,’ and, in fact, cases continued to rise afterward. He cited a CDC report that 85 percent of SARS-CoV2 positive people reported wearing masks all the time, or almost all the time.
Forest continued dressing down Cooper’s mishandling of the Pandemic Panic, citing a growing number of reputable doctors and health experts that agree the lockdowns actually did more harm than good.
Cooper just repeated ‘science and data’ at louder volumes while framing Forest’s skepticism as coming from the ‘dark corners of the internet.’ You know, those dark corners full of world-class epidemiologists and public health experts at Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, and more.
Forest wants to let the people not at extraordinary risk — which is most people — get back to a normal way of life. Open their businesses as normal, go to school as normal, and make risk assessments as individuals with liberty as is normally the case with every other virus or risk of danger.
When asked to comment on the fact that so many people around the state don’t follow his mask mandates in the slightest, Cooper complained that law enforcement was hesitant to enforce the executive orders. That’s rich coming from a governor that stood by, and asked State Capitol Police to ‘stand down,’ as violent mobs destroyed statues on state property and smashed downtown businesses in Raleigh and other major cities across the state.
Cooper did say that violence and property destruction was unacceptable and that it should not be tolerated. Except, he and others tolerated it, repeatedly, while also signaling their virtue and support to the Woke Mob.
Cooper continued pandering to the Woke in comments on the question of systemic racism. Forest, however, stood up against the scourge of Woke Dogma while asserting that racism should be “rejected at every single turn.”
Forest also wouldn’t let Cooper forget about the fact that 1.5 million people filed jobless claims as a result of Pandemic Panic and closure mandates from the governor. This complicated Cooper’s claim of jobs coming to North Carolina, and also his tired push for Medicaid expansion.
‘How many people lost their health insurance’ as a result of Cooper’s lockdown edicts, Forest wondered.
All of this happened while the candidates presented two very different states of demeanor. While Cooper attacked, the aggression seemed to come from a position of vulnerability. He thought he was landing punches on Forest, but they had no power behind them.
Forest, on the other hand, was calm, confident, collected, and upbeat in his performance and his message.
As we said before, Cooper is likely glad this was the only debate. We wish there were more, honestly, but voters who did see it should be glad they had the opportunity to compare and contrast. Who voters choose on this election will say a lot about the kind of North Carolina they want. Hopefully, it’s the kind that remembers the individual liberty and personal responsibility that undergirds the very idea of America itself.