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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Two candidates. One room.

More than 500 local voters filled the Wilmington Convention Center this morning. It was their chance to hear from both major party gubernatorial candidates in person. It was the first of two times Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory will share the stage today.

"I believe in having a conversation with the people of North Carolina opposed to talking down to them," McCrory said,    

And that’s the idea behind this "Power Breakfast." Hundreds of voters listening to the republican and democrat candidates, then asking them questions.

"There were some differences in the two candidates’ views in economic development… I wouldn’t say view as much as approaches, and that’s really important to me to hear where each of them are coming from in terms of how they view the potential for our area," Elizabeth Debiasi of Wilmington said.

Greg Neel of Wilmington said, "I just wanted to hear in person what different issues both candidates thought were important."

Unemployment and job creation ruled the stage.

"We need an economic development plan to better promote Wilmington’s travel and tourism business, incredible workforce for future manufacturing and also its port and transportation business," McCrory said.

Lt. Gov. Dalton says he’ll get people back to work with his plan.

"It gives a tax credit for hiring the long-term unemployed," Dalton said. "It has a train-to-hire provision that you can take someone off of unemployment, test them out for eight weeks."

The candidates controlled the stage, but the crowd will control November’s outcome.

Tonight McCrory and Dalton will face off in a debate in Research Triangle Park sponsored by the NC Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation. You can watch the debate on RTV 3.2 at 7 p.m.

It’s the first live TV debate between the two major party candidates. They debated once before in June at the North Carolina Bar Association convention in Wilmington, but the forum aired on TV later.
Like the presidential race, Libertarian candidate for governor Barbara Howe won’t participate Wednesday or in two other debates later this month.

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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