Less than a week out from the North Carolina primaries, leading Republican contender for U.S. Senate Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) finished up his 100-county tour throughout the state where he spoke with voters about the top issues they are grappling with under the Biden administration.
The congressman, who received a highly coveted endorsement from former President Donald Trump last summer, took a less typical approach to his campaign, forgoing debates in favor of a statewide tour, speaking directly to North Carolinians. While his competitors, including establishment-backed former Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) and former Rep. Mark Walker, have criticized Budd for skipping debates, Budd exclusively told Breitbart News on Thursday that he could not imagine asking voters to support him without taking the time to visit them personally.
“North Carolina is a wonderful state and one of the best things about this campaign is I finally had a good excuse to visit all 100 counties. I’m the only Republican candidate to do that, even though I’m also the only candidate who has a full-time job in Congress. I know some folks mock the idea, but I can’t imagine saying you want to represent all 100 counties without making it a priority to visit all 100 counties,” said Budd, who is running to fill retiring Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) seat.
“Thanks to Beasley-Biden policies which caused record-setting inflation and high gas prices, it cost a lot more to do it, but it was worth it to be able to shake hands, look voters in the eyes, and ask for their votes in all 100 counties. McCrory and Cheri Beasley (the leading Democrat U.S. Senate candidate) both are on their fourth statewide campaign but neither one of them have ever toured all 100 counties,” he continued.
During his journey around the state, Budd said voters vocalized being most frustrated about inflation, immigration, and education — a trend seen around the country as Americans contend with the highest inflation rates in decades, fentanyl trafficking and a one-year 15 percent increase in drug overdose deaths, and critical race theory (CRT) indoctrination in schools.
“I heard from folks who are on a fixed income and say they’re having a hard time affording the basics like food and gas. I’ve heard from families who tell me about a loved one who has been impacted by fentanyl or other drugs,” he said. “I hear from parents who discovered CRT being taught to their kids without their knowledge…”
But Budd said the top concern among North Carolinians is the “chaos at the border” and “the resulting crime and drugs that flow from that.” Notably, more than 107,000 people in the United States died from drug overdoses in 2021, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data — over 80,000 of which died from opioids. Deaths from fentanyl continue to grow as President Joe Biden pursues open border policies, allowing more drug smugglers into the United States.
“Drug overdose is now the leading cause of death between ages 18-45 and that can be linked directly back to the lack of security at our Southern border. When I was down visiting the border a few months ago with the border patrol council, they had to arrest cartel members right then,” he said.
As Breitbart News reported, the inflow of fentanyl into American communities has spiked in recent years. In fiscal year 2019, about 2,800 pounds of fentanyl was seized at the border. The following year, that figure capped out at 4,800 pounds of the drug seized. By fiscal year 2021, which represents most of Biden’s first year in office, fentanyl seizures skyrocketed to about 11,200 pounds. Already, in fiscal year 2022, which began October 1, 2021, about 5,300 pounds of fentanyl have been seized at the border. The figures indicate that fentanyl seizures under Biden, last year alone, have quadrupled since fiscal year 2019 when former President Donald Trump was in office.
“These agents told me that we need to finish the wall, but also they really need an administration that has their back and a Congress that has their back. Right now, they don’t have that,” Budd added.
Inflation too is “hitting everyday North Carolinians hard,” Budd said, crediting Biden’s “tax-and-spend” policies “that bid up the cost of goods and pay people to stay home.”
“The first thing we have to do here is stop the reckless spending. Next, we have to go back to the economic policies under President Trump, which created the best economy in 50 years for everyone, at every income level and every background,” he proposed.
Inflation is expected to be a top issue for voters in every primary election around the country, recent polling suggests — though Democrats have instead made abortion a central issue in their campaigns following the leak of the Supreme Court’s potential decision to overrule its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision declaring abortion to be protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Budd, who describes himself as a “conscience-driven advocate for the unborn,” said, “it’s insulting that national Democrats like Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer think voters only care about one issue.”
“A lot of these independent, unaffiliated voters cared about a lot of issues, not just one issue. Schumer’s immediate response to the Supreme Court leak was to push legislation that would make abortions legal from conception all the way through nine months of pregnancy. That’s extreme and out of touch. But Cheri Beasley was quick to say she supported that extreme position. That’s extreme and out of touch with North Carolina’s values,” Budd said, taking aim at his potential general election competitor, should he secure the Republican nomination on May 17, primary election day.
Recent polling shows Budd 27 points ahead of McCrory with 42 percent support, five points higher than his lead last month. McCrory earned just 16 percent support. Undecided voters likely played a role in Budd’s increasing lead, as just 16 percent remain undecided compared to 23 percent last month.
“I feel great. The polls look good. But look, North Carolina is the NASCAR state. We don’t let off the gas down the stretch,” Budd said. “So even though the polls have us up double digits, I’m running like I’m 10 points down. I plan on parking the Biden Agenda Crusher in Victory Lane on May 17 and again in November.”
Budd said he largely credits Trump’s endorsement for boosting his “name ID and fundraising.” Polling throughout Budd’s campaign has shown that Trump’s endorsement of Budd would favorably impact how North Carolinians vote next week. Overall, Trump’s endorsed candidates have made clean sweeps in most Republican primaries so far, save for Nebraska. While Nebraska’s race has shown Trump-endorsed candidates are not immune to losing, the “America First” brand still clearly captivates GOP voters across the country looking for strong Republican representatives.
“It’s hard to overstate how helpful President Trump’s endorsement has been. It’s helped my name ID and fundraising, but what often gets overlooked is the impact among grassroots activists. These are the folks who come out and do door knocks or make phone calls to help recruit new supporters or do get out the vote work,” he said. “When my team and I were making recruiting calls, we didn’t have to call folks four or five times. We were able to lock them down with one call once we told them that I’m the candidate endorsed by President Trump. Because of that, we were able to have active grassroots coalitions organized in all 100 counties since early October.”
With a large lead in the primary polls, Budd already has his sights set on taking down likely Democrat nominee Cheri Beasley in November. Beasley served as the chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 2019 to 2020 and had been an associate justice since 2012. Budd has criticized North Carolina’s Supreme Court in previous interviews with Breitbart News, slamming “liberal justices” for their “violat[ing] the will of the people” by overturning state voter ID laws. Budd said if Beasley is elected, she will “rubber stamp” more of Biden’s radical agenda.
“Cheri Beasley will rubber stamp even more failed policies from Joe Biden. North Carolina’s working families can’t afford that. We need a Conservative Fighter to stop the failed Biden-Beasley-Agenda,” he said.
An Emerson College Polling/the Hill survey released this week showed Budd leading Beasley 48 percent to 41 percent with ten percent undecided, should they both secure nominations from their respective parties.
Katherine Hamilton is a political reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow her on Twitter.