WINSTON-SALEM — Gov. Pat McCrory joined Donald Trump at a campaign rally for the first time Monday night to present a unified ticket for the fall elections in North Carolina.
“It’s going to take an outsider to clean up Washington, D.C.,” McCrory told the crowd after he took the stage following other state Republicans.
Days after accepting the Republican presidential nomination, Trump visited the important Southern battleground with his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. The 8 p.m. rally allowed them to capture state voters’ attention on the first night of the Democratic National Convention.
When McCrory took the stage, he got a loud round of applause for a joke about a state law limiting protections for LGBT people and directing transgender people to restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings.
Among his first remarks the crowd, McCrory told audience members to be safe and note where the exits are.
He added: “If any of you need to use the restroom … .” Then he paused.
The crowd loudly applauded the reference to the law known as House Bill 2.
After the cheers died down, he said: “And if you have any questions, go to the Philadelphia convention where all the Democrats are!”
McCrory didn’t appear at Trump’s previous campaign events in North Carolina, but his appearance represented a unified party going into the fall elections. The Republican governor is in a tight re-election battle with his Democratic challenger, North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper.
In touting Trump, McCrory repeatedly said: “We need an outsider.”
McCrory introduced Pence as a friend he’s known for years, and the two exchanged a hearty hug and handshake. Pence and Trump then closed out the night.
Before that, speakers included Republican members of Congress Mark Meadows, Virginia Foxx, Renee Ellmers, as well as Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.
Burr was among the first speakers, firing the crowd up by saying: “Welcome to a red state that, like a lot of other red states, is going to elect Donald Trump!”
He also commended the attendees in an arena at fairgrounds in Winston-Salem by saying: “You’re not listening to who the national media wants as president.”
Several speakers made jokes at Hillary Clinton’s expense, punctuated by chants of “Lock Her Up!”
North Carolina was a closely contested state in the past two presidential elections, adding to its status as a battleground this election. Trump has already made several appearances in the state.
Cooper released an online ad Monday attacking McCrory and Trump that included footage of the presidential candidate praising the governor along with news footage about the fallout from the North Carolina law limiting protections for LGBT people.
“Trump and McCrory: Wrong for North Carolina,” reads a statement at the end of the ad.