Marc Basnight and Hood Richardson squared off in Elizabeth City last week in a forum sponsored by the Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce.  This was the first, and possibly the only, public debate between the two candidates.  Their divergent views on the economy, corruption, illegal immigrants, healthcare and the environment were on full display.

It was a Basnight friendly audience and the Senator tried to use that to his advantage.  The cool reception that Richardson received, though, did not deter him from speaking frankly.  The result is that voters will have a hard time coming away undecided after reading and hearing these exchanges. While no video is available, the exchange was captured on audio and is linked below the fold.

The number one issue facing our economy, Basnight told the audience, was jobs.  “You cannot create more jobs unless the training, the wisdom, the education is there.  You have to have great community colleges, better universities and superior public schools.”  He went on to say, “We have to develop the mind in order to make certain we build and make something to sell to the world.”

Richardson refuted this idea saying, “The reason we don’t have jobs is not because we’re not educated.  The reason we don’t have jobs is because of the policies of government, both federal and state government.”  His website clearly lays out his plan for job creation in the state.  It includes cutting the income tax on small business, eliminating the capital gains tax and reducing burdensome regulation.

On the subject of illegal immigration, Richardson said that the illegals cost North Carolina $2Billion/year and hold 600,000-700,000 jobs across the state.  He is in favor of sending the illegals back to their home country.

Basnight, disagreed, with the idea of exporting illegals.  He stated that our farms and crabmeat processing plants would not have labor without them.  When asked if Americans would take those kinds of jobs, he replied that we cannot “recruit our daughters and sons into the fields of North Carolina.”

“I wasn’t too good to work in those fields,” Richardson replied.  And other Americans would take those jobs if we would stop paying able bodied people not to work.  “If a man gets hungry enough, he’ll work.”  Knowing that there is still a need for foreign workers, Richardson proposes a work permit system.  This would require employers to obtain a work permit for each foreign worker and to take responsibility for bringing them into and exporting them out of our country.  Under such a system, workers would not pay into social security but they also would not receive government benefits.  This would create a system of ‘legal labor’ and reduce the cost of welfare and education in this state.

On the subject of healthcare, Basnight said “Parts of Obamacare, I like.”  He lamented that three of his cooks could not obtain health insurance because of their pre-existing condition.  He said he had a responsibility to take care of them and that he thought it was right to ask him, as a business owner, to pay more to do that.

Richardson went right to the root cause stating that the problem with our medical system is that ‘socialism has crept into it.”  He favors allowing insurance carriers to sell their products across state lines.  He said we need ‘free and open competition.’

On corruption, Richardson went after the system he calls ‘Legal Corruption’.  Three people in North Carolina make all of the appointments to the Boards and Commissions.  The Boards & Commissions are where all the rules and regulations, which later become laws, originate.  When you have the power to appoint, you have the power to make law without ever having to have the legislators vote on a bill.  This power is enormous and is the reason why the majority of the money donated to campaigns in North Carolina flows to these three people.  Presently, the three people who make all of the appointments are Basnight, President Pro Tem of the Senate, Joe Hackney, Speaker of the House and the Governor, Beverly Perdue.  Hood finds this system of influence buying reprehensible.  He says that all appointments should come before the entire legislative body.  “We’ve got to change the system and give it back to the people.”

Basnight defended his appointment powers saying that it has benefited Eastern North Carolina.  “I’m happy to have the appointment power.”

On the subject of the environment, Richardson said that both the Bonner and Mid-Currituck bridges have not been built because of the environmental rules and regulations that Basnight himself created.  He says that while Basnight is proud of what he’s done for the environment, he has now been caught in his own trap.  Basnight did not respond to this charge.

You can hear the entire exchange from the Beaufort News website.  And then be sure to click back to the front page to vote in Truth or Dare’s online poll on the sidebar.