On Friday morning, Governor Pat McCrory met with state tobacco farmers at the State Fairgrounds in Raleigh during the Tobacco Growers Association of North Carolina's annual meeting.
Tobacco farmers were a potent political force in North Carolina politics for decades, but their power has ebbed with the public's increased concern about health dangers associated with smoking. The General Assembly has passed laws in recent years raising cigarette taxes and banning smoking inside restaurants and bars.
In front of hundreds of tobacco farmers and businesses Friday, McCrory vowed to push tobacco exports when he goes overseas and to help the agriculture business grow locally.
McCrory kept half of his speech focused on his audience, but also stuck to his message on a number of pressing issues - one being unemployment benefits.
He said he would not support extending unemployment benefits beyond July, saying its borrowed money that has put the state in more debt.
"Who pays for that debt? You do," McCrory said. "I refuse to have us continue to live off of a credit card. We're going to continue to pay off that credit card. We're going to change the rules and policies; the current status quo of how we're done unemployment has not put more people on the payroll of private sector jobs. It's put more people on the government payrolls of unemployment."
McCrory did not take any questions following his speech.