After receiving a typically enthusiastic introduction from former Governor Jim Hunt Tuesday, Governor McCrory said, “Note to staff: Never have me speak after Jim Hunt again.”
Here’s another note he should send them: Know my audience.
McCrory was speaking at N.C. State’s Emerging Issues Form on manufacturing. He seemed to think he was speaking to a group of business people and manufacturing executives. The speech was spot on for that audience. But not for this one, which was mostly policy wonks – lobbyists, lawyers, educators, association executives and the like.
I don’t fault McCrory. But he should fault his staff. The first rule of speechwriting is: write to the audience – and make sure the speaker knows who they are.
That quibble aside, it was the first time I had a chance to measure McCrory as a public speaker.
He has one great strength: He’s likeable. Don’t underestimate that in a politician. (See: Mike Easley.)
What I couldn’t figure from his speech is what he really is: An affable front man for a radical ideology, or the model of a moderate, pro-business Charlotte Republican.
Either out of instinct or calculation, he distanced himself from Republican red-hots and from some of his and his administration’s fumbles.
He praised the value of a liberal arts college education “like the one I got.” In a bow to Hunt, he talked about the importance of pre-K education.
After saying why he opposed Medicaid expansion and a state insurance exchange, he said, “one thing I have to tell the politicians” – who might that be? – is that health care reform is the law of the land.
Clearly, this is a hard man to pin down. But in today’s polarized politics, that might be a strength – one Democrats shouldn’t underestimate.