CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- He may be a career politician, but Pat McCrory takes pride in his address always being in North Carolina.
"Washington has failed us, and the last thing we need is more people from Washington to fix Washington," McCrory, who served as Governor of North Carolina from 2013 to 2017, told ABC11 in an exclusive interview. "I'm running based upon my track record of success and kept promises as a city councilmember, a mayor and as a governor. As a change agent. I've been more worried about the next generation than the next election."
McCrory is well aware that he lost his last election to Governor Roy Cooper - an election won mostly by Republicans in statewide races, including former President Donald Trump. Still, McCrory insists that only makes him stronger and more well-equipped to win a statewide race versus his two Republican rivals, Rep. Ted Budd and former congressman Mark Walker.
"We did some great things as a governor. I left the state a better place than when I arrived. There's no ands, ifs, or buts. We were a change agent and I stepped on a lot of toes of Democrats and Republicans," McCrory said. "The main thing is independents are going to determine this election, and there are more independents in North Carolina than Democrats and Republicans. I think independents, like everyone, is looking for someone who can solve problems and care about everyday needs like grocery store prices, gasoline prices, security and safety."
Since leaving the Executive Residence in Raleigh, McCrory became more of an outside observer of politics than a political insider, hosting a successful radio show. McCrory, though, said he became fed up talking about politics without having the chance to make an impact as he did as a governor or in Charlotte's city government.
WATCH | Pat McCrory's full interview with ABC11
"The thing that really changed my mind was when we started paying people more not to work than to work. When I became governor in 2013 we had the 4th highest unemployment rate in the country and companies were telling me, 'I can't get people to come to work because unemployment compensation is so high.' So I made a very difficult decision and unpopular decision with protestors in the more liberal groups to reduce unemployment compensation to what Tennessee, Virginia and South Carolina, were paying. It was a risk, and it was a tough decision with empathy."
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Those "tough decisions" as McCrory calls them, are what North Carolina should expect from lawmakers -- especially in Washington.
"I have the ability to solve the problems that this country is facing," he added. "I'm going to bring North Carolina solutions to Washington, D.C., and my opponents are all about Washington, D.C."
Still, one of D.C.'s most prominent Republicans -- former President Donald Trump -- continues to loom large in the Republican party, and Trump himself has endorsed McCrory's rival, Ted Budd.
"Anyone who has to burden shoulder endorsements and that's the top thing on their resume is a failed candidate for the general election," McCrory said. "I've always believed that if you're a candidate whose sole resume is endorsements or money from Washington big interest groups, anti-farmer, you're not going to be the best candidate for the election."
As for the former President's record - and rhetoric - McCrory spoke of a need for Republicans to bring "maturity."
"We as Republicans, like the Democrats, first need to bring maturity to be a problem solver. The second thing is a little more self-deprecation. Take the issue seriously but don't take yourself so daggum seriously. Third, we need to have a little humor occasionally -- agree to disagree but laugh and have a beer like (President Ronald) Reagan and (former Speaker of the House) Tip O'Neill used to do."
McCrory, however, insists he embraces many of the policies championed by Trump.
"President Trump's policies on immigration, illegal immigration, China, Israel, trade, economy, energy. I'm a huge supporter of those policies and was a strong leader of those policies. I'm going to fight for those policies," he said. "Instead of rhetoric, we need solutions to our problems, and we need the courage to present tough solutions that aren't always popular - and I've done just that in my public service."