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North Carolina candidates Robinson, Morrow face national scrutiny over controversial, anti-government comments

HIGH POINT, N.C. (WGHP) — The primary has come and gone, the political signs are coming down, and, after a runoff election or two, all eyes in North Carolina will be on November.

Eyes outside of North Carolina have now focused on the Tar Heel State, particularly with a high-profile gubernatorial race projected to be one of the most expensive races in the country. National outlets like CNN and NPR have now focused on North Carolinian candidates ahead of the general election.

While Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson has long garnered attention for “controversial” remarks since he came into the public eye in 2018, which was reported on in NPR this week, his campaign and past comments have come into sharper focus in the 10 days since he defeated his primary opponents, shoring up his bout against Attorney General Josh Stein that has long been predicted,

Michele Morrow, another North Carolina GOP candidate, is garnering nearly as much attention in the press since her surprise victory. Morrow bested incumbent Catherine Truitt to vie for North Carolina state superintendent, running as a more conservative option in the GOP race. Morrow homeschools her children and has worked as a missionary. According to reports, she was at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, though she was not involved in the riot.

The two candidates are now in the national spotlight for commentary on social media in the earlier days of their political careers and facing similar accusations of conspiracism and charged rhetoric about other politicians and public figures.

Mark Robinson

Robinson was thrust into the political spotlight after a charged speech during a 2018 Greensboro City Council meeting. Since his election as lieutenant governor, he’s become known for fiery rhetoric and bombastic speeches in which he does not hold back on his opinions about any number of topics, such as the LGBTQ+ community and his political opponents.

He’s been scrutinized for brushes with conspiracy theories in the past with analysis of his past social media posts now in the forefront. While his comments on the campaign trail have been markedly more measured, emphasizing his platform that focuses on the economy and education, NPR points out that he’s still treading the same controversial waters at smaller events.

“When the chips are down, when the FBI is knocking on my door, will I cower? Will I comply or will I stand up and fight? Folks, it’s time to stand up and fight,” Robinson said in audio obtained from a speech earlier this month in Naples, Florida.

Opponent Josh Stein took to X to say, “My opponent @markrobinsonNC told people to ‘stand up and fight’ the FBI and has said he’d use AR-15s if the ‘government gets too big for its britches’ to ‘fill the backside of them britches with some lead.’ His rhetoric is dangerous — and it’s a direct threat to law enforcement.”

Stein’s comments are responding not only to the new audio from the NPR article but also a statement Robinson previously made about his AR-15 ownership in 2022, which Gov. Roy Cooper described at the time as “advocating to overthrow” the government.

Robinson’s campaign responded by saying that Stein twisted Robinson’s words and that the lieutenant governor was calling for citizens to defend their rights rather than advocating violence against federal agents. Mike Lonergan, communications director for Robinson’s gubernatorial campaign, wrote:

“He was clearly encouraging folks to mobilize at the ballot box to vote against Biden and the Democrats and their continued weaponization of the justice system against their political opponents; like their political witch hunts against President (Donald) Trump; or when Biden’s attorney general likened parents concerned about their kids’ schools to ‘domestic terrorists’.” 

This comment appears to reference a response Merrick Garland penned to a letter by the National School Board Association discussing parent groups at school board meetings and the decision of the Southern Poverty Law Center to label Mom’s For Liberty a hate group.

NPR’s article addresses additional claims of Robinson’s long history of stoking controversy, such as alleged skepticism of the Holocaust. Robinson’s campaign says this is inaccurate and taken out of context. The comment, a Facebook post about how Germans disarmed Jewish people before the Holocaust, was not a denial of the Holocaust happening. While Politifact characterizes the argument that gun control in Nazi Germany preceded the Holocaust as false, it’s inaccurate to say that Robinson was skeptical that the Holocaust happened as his argument was about gun control.

Robinson has not walked back any of the old comments he’s made on social media, even as he shies away from them on the campaign trail, which includes calling survivors of school shootings “prosti-tots,” perpetuating conspiracy theories that the attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband was dishonest and referring to Michelle Obama as a man.

He has shared stages with election deniers at events, expressing his own doubts about the 2020 election at times, and said that comments he made about Hitler at a Mom’s For Liberty event in 2023 were taken out of context. He has claimed that North Carolina hospitals are performing “transgender” surgery on five-year-olds, and he met with Ginni Thomas, prominent election denier and wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, in the weeks following the Jan. 6 insurrection.

“There is no low to which the Democrats will not stoop to smear Mark Robinson. The only extremist in this race is Josh Stein. He supports President Biden’s open-borders policies that would turn North Carolina into a sanctuary state for illegal immigrants; and is backed by far-left radicals that want to defund the police. North Carolina voters have had enough of the lies from career politicians like Joe Biden and Josh Stein.”

Mike Lonergan, Communications Director, Mark Robinson for Governor

Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, ReproForAll and People’s Alliance are cited in a post by Lonergan alongside screenshots of those organizations addressing the phrase “defund the police,” a police reform slogan that came into the popular consciousness in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Josh Stein’s campaign page does not mention the “defund the police” movement.

Michele Morrow

Morrow has similarly faced mounting criticism as her candidacy for North Carolina superintendent enters national news after her primary win. Both Media Matters, a progressive outlet, and CNN have gone over prior statements from the candidate with CNN emphasizing past violent rhetoric and Media Matters outlining her connection to QAnon.

Posts on her personal, now inactive X — formerly Twitter — account show that she has used the hashtag #WWG1WGA multiple times, which stands for “where we go one, we go all.” #WWG1WGA has long been used as a rallying cry for QAnon followers, taken from the trailer of the 1996 movie “White Squall.”

She has also referenced the consumption of adrenochrome, a real biomolecule that QAnon mythos treats as a mythical substance harvested from children by the “elites” to consume in rituals, and she has promoted the conspiracy that a Chinese military force was marching on America from the northern border.

She frequently used the hashtag “#deathtotraitors” in which she rails against criminal accusations against then-President Trump. She repeatedly called for the death of former President Barack Obama. In a recent post on her campaign X account, she defended her comments, saying she was accusing Obama of treason for his drone strikes against Yemen despite not mentioning Yemen in prior posts. She voiced concern for “innocent Muslim civilians” in her Tweet, while previously calling Islam a cult and stating that she believed Muslims should not be able to run for office.

She has also claimed that the “Deep State,” a go-to boogeyman of far-right conspiracy theories promoted by figures like Alex Jones, is “intent” on destroying America. She wrote in one post, “Kill all traitors!” and has called tolerance “deadly.”

She unsuccessfully ran for Wake County Board of Education in 2022, prior to which she had no political experience. She has called for an end to public education, referring to schools as “socialism centers” and accusing public education of “indoctrinating” children.

FOX8 reached out to Morrow’s campaign for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

Morrow will face off against Mo Green, a Democrat and former superintendent of Guilford County Schools, the third-largest district in the state. Robinson will be in the governor’s race against Stein.

Source: Fox 8 News Channel

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