A new campaign ad from North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory released Wednesday defends his anti-trans bathroom bill on the basis of "privacy and safety."
The 30-second spot is intended to answer criticisms of House Bill 2, the controversial legislation that effectively forces trans people to use public restrooms (in government buldings) that do not correspond with their gender identity; it also invalidated all municipal protections for LGBT people, and makes it impossible to pass future pro-LGBT housing and employment laws. In the ad, McCrory stands by the embattled bill, which was introduced, debated, and signed into law in a single day.
"You know, when we were raising average teacher pay, creating new jobs, and cutting taxes, other folks were actually pushing to make our schools allow boys to use the girls' locker rooms and showers," McCrory claims. "Are we really talking about this? Does the desire to be politically correct outweigh our children's privacy and safety? Not on my watch. Our kids and teachers are my priority.
"This is North Carolina," he concludes. "Let's do what's right."
If McCrory hopes to do right by his state with HB 2, there's little evidence the people of North Carolina agree with him. A May survey from Public Policy Polling found that just 35 percent of likely voters support the legislation, while half of those who plan to cast a ballot in November would like to see the law repealed.
In addition, 56 percent of people believe that HB 2 has had a negative impact on North Carolina.
Following the bill's passage, over 160 companies condemned the legislation, with businesses like PayPal and Deutsche Bank pulling out of planned expansions in the state. In July, the NBA further announced that the league would be moving the 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, where it was set to be held in February. That blow may result in a $100 million economic loss for the state.
It's unsurprising then that McCrory has been trailing his opponent, Attorney General Roy Cooper, in the polls.Real Clear Politics, which averages numbers from reputable pollsters like Monmouth University and CNN, shows Cooper ahead by 3.6 points.
Jamal Little, a spokesman for the Cooper campaign, said that the ad shows McCrory still doesn't understand the devastation HB 2 has wrought.
"How can we fix this problem if we have a governor who won't even acknowledge it exists?" Little wrote in a press release. "While the governor continues to deny the economic impact of House Bill 2, by running this ad it's clear he recognizes the impact it is having on his poll numbers. It's time for a leader who will work to repeal House Bill 2 and put the interests of North Carolinians first."
Jim Rafter, a representative of Freedom for All Americans, agreed that McCrory still doesn't get it. "Gov. McCrory continues to live in an alternate universe where he's choosing to remain blind to the damage he's done to his state," he said in a statement, "and instead doubles down on discrimination."
McCrory's camp defended the ad, stating that equal access for trans people is part of a radical left-wing agenda.
"For months, Roy Cooper has pushed a false narrative about the state's privacy and protection law to divert attention away from his support for an extreme agenda that's out of step with North Carolina beliefs and values," McCrory campaign manager Russell Peck told Charlotte's WRAL.
The reality is that there's little that's extreme about protecting against discrimination and allowing trans people to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
In the more than 200 localities that provide affirming bathroom access for trans people, there's never been a single verified case of a transgender individual attacking someone else in a public restroom.