As President Trump visits NC, former Gov. Jim Hunt says he’s troubled by push to return to classrooms

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt’s passion for the state’s students and educators goes back to his tenure as lieutenant governor in the early 1970s. He eventually became known as the “education governor” when he was elected to the higher office.

Hunt said he is troubled by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric and threats to cut off funding when it comes to returning to classrooms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m glad he’s coming to North Carolina, and I want to say that on your television. He is welcome, but I’ll declare, and now, of course, I’m concerned about his attitude towards school reopening,” Hunt said.

“And yet, President Trump seems to want to make sure they’re all going back in person right now. That’s wrong. That’s not the North Carolina way. Let these local people decide how they want to do it, what will be effective, and what will be safe. That’s the North Carolina way. We can do that, and President Trump unfortunately is urging a different course.”

Hunt also believes Trump’s response to the pandemic could have been better handled from the onset.

“They were saying way back how serious this is apt to be. It was happening in Europe. It was happening countries around the world, and he kept acting like it was going to blow up, it was going to blow away, it wasn’t gonna last very long,” Hunt said. “And here we are.”

Hunt did share high praise for North Carolina’s approach to the pandemic and the jobs done by local leaders, the General Assembly, and Gov. Roy Cooper’s Coronavirus Task Force.

North Carolinians elected Hunt as governor four times, which ties him in fourth for longest-serving governors in the country’s history. At 83 years old, he has sage advice for all political leaders.

“When you get in higher office, you need to keep learning,” Hunt said. “You need to keep listening to people. You don’t get in there and think you know it all. You listen to people who do know a lot and you learn from them, and you try to design an approach that will make sense.”

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