McCrory revs up crowd to own drumbeat

Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory found a receptive audience Wednesday for his message that N.C. government is out of touch – and for his drum-playing.

McCrory, the Republican nominee for governor, told a “Take Back Our State” rally near the General Assembly that “four or five power elites” control the state capital. He promised to be more visible and more responsive, echoing the theme he launched his statewide campaign with in January.

“It is up to us as elected officials to find out what the problems are and work with you on solutions,” he told about 1,000 people on Halifax Mall.

The crowd of conservative and libertarian activists had an array of concerns. Speakers and people at booths argued for lower taxes and spending, more charter schools and protections for private property.

Before speaking, McCrory played a drum set for about a minute while Dallas Woodhouse, N.C. director of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity, sang the song “We Will Rock You” by Queen.

“I got kicked out of ninth-grade band because I'm a bad drummer,” McCrory said afterward.

N.C. Democratic Chairman Jerry Meek on Wednesday criticized McCrory's record on taxes, citing a report in January from the conservative John Locke Foundation that said Charlotte had the highest per capita local tax burden in the state for seven straight years.

“Now McCrory wants to be a fiscal conservative,” Meek said in a statement.

Other speakers at the rally included former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bob Dole of Kansas and N.C. Senate Republican leader Phil Berger of Rockingham County.

“Every election cycle is important,” Dole said, “but looking out and being as objective as I can, I can't remember one that's been more important than this one on a state and federal level.” His wife, Republican U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, is running for re-election this year.