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Cunningham uses environmental awards event to apologize to voters

Cunningham uses environmental awards event to apologize to voters
© Cal for NC / flickr.com

North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham on Wednesday apologized to voters during his remarks at the North Carolina League of Conservation Voters Green Tie Awards, days after the candidate admitted to exchanging romantic text messages with the wife of a combat veteran. 

Before we get into the issues that most affect this campaign, I want you to hear something directly from me,” Cunningham began. “I am deeply sorry for the hurt I have caused in my personal life and I also apologize to all of you."

“And I hope each of you watching at home accept this sincere apology and that we will continue to work together to change the direction of our country and strengthen our state,” he added. 

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The remarks come the same day the U.S. Army Reserve announced it was launching an investigation into Cunningham, a lieutenant colonel, over the messages.   

It is unclear when the texts were sent, but one may have been sent recently as this summer when Cunningham was campaigning.

“Would make my day to roll over and kiss you about now,” Cunningham wrote in one of the text messages. In other messages, the two fantasized about spending the night together.

Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisSenate hears from Biden's high-profile judicial nominees for first time Senate Democrats take aim at 'true lender' interest rate rule Former North Carolina chief justice launches Senate campaign MORE (R-N.C.), Cunningham's opponent, tweeted Wednesday morning that Cunningham "owes North Carolinians a full explanation. The truth still matters in North Carolina, Cal." 

In response to Cunningham’s apology at Wednesday night’s event, Tillis issued a statement in which the senator argued that “Cunningham's comments tonight only make his scandal — and the hypocrisy of his campaign — worse.”

“Cunningham is afraid to directly address why and how he betrayed the trust of North Carolinians,” Tillis continued. “He offered no explanation for his extramarital affairs, instead choosing to read off an insincere apology written by his campaign consultants from DC, in line with the fake and insincere persona he is trying to sell to North Carolina.”

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“Cal Cunningham needs to stop hiding behind prewritten statements and teleprompters,” he continued. “He needs to answer every single question from reporters he has spent the last week ignoring.”

Despite news of the text messages, a survey by Public Policy Polling released Monday found that 58 percent of North Carolinians who heard about the texts said it wouldn’t change their votes. The same poll reported that Cunningham leads Tillis 48 percent to 42 percent.  

Tillis, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, was forced to temporarily close his campaign headquarters in Charlotte, N.C.