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Sen. Burr: 'I don't want to feel that it's comfortable for us to rewrite history'

Sen. Richard Burr speaks to WLOS about Charlottesville, North Korea, and Confederate statues. (WLOS)

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr stopped by a luncheon for CIBO on Friday in Swannanoa. The senator shook hands with many who attended before giving a more than half hour speech, focusing on the role of technology in the country's economic future.

The senator also touched on tax reform, among other issues, before answering a handful of questions from the crowd.

When answering those questions, Burr disagreed with President Donald Trump's remarks following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"I found the president’s reaction to Charlottesville to be, as I’ve already been quoted, misguided, ill informed, and his comments don’t take into account the responsibilities I have as an elected official to try to bring people together versus to try to fuel division," Burr said.

Burr continued discussing the topic, noting that he called the violent attack on the crowd a terrorist incident.

"When a group comes in body armor, helmets and clubs, it’s a pretty good sign that they’re coming with the intent of committing violence," Burr continued. "When I saw it, it was domestic terrorism, as far as I was concerned, and I said that. I don’t see any difference in that and an individual that rented a truck in Barcelona and just killed 14 people and injured over 60."

News 13 was given an exclusive one-on-one interview with the senator from North Carolina following the luncheon. The senator was asked about a variety of topics from the removal of statues to North Korea. Several select quotes can be found below. Look for the complete video interview later tonight when this article is updated.

On removing Confederate statues:

"Listen, I can understand the sensitivity of possibly where a monument might be located. Our country’s not very old. It’s just a little over 200 years. I hope we’re not in the business of determining what in our history we want to look back on and say, 'Well, this was not as significant as it should’ve been, it doesn’t deserve the recognition.' If it does, then we might as well bulldoze the Washington Mall.

"I don’t think Zebulon Vance who was governor but was also an officer in the Confederacy is necessarily an embarrassment to North Carolina. He filled a role in a state that he lived in that everybody served. And I think to suggest that he comes out just because he did what everybody else did in North Carolina is the condemnation of an entire generation.

"What I don’t want is, I don’t want to feel that it’s comfortable for us to rewrite history. History is important to guide us where we go in the future. History provides us opportunity not to make the same mistake twice, and to in any way, shape or form erase history is a huge mistake.

"This is something communities are going to have to grapple with, and, hopefully, they will understand that both sides of the debate truly have to be given their first amendment right to express themselves."

On health care reform:

"If I thought it could be tweaked, my legislation would’ve tweaked it. The fact is that I found very early on, five years ago, that it couldn’t be tweaked and fixed. Therefore, I wrote three replacement bills. So, it’s not like I haven’t laid my thoughts on the table.

"What we need is, we need a robust, competitive, individual market. We need to begin to turn premium costs down and to increase the number of options that individuals have for health care coverage. We need to provide what I think we tried to do before Congress didn’t pass the legislation, we need to empower states to redesign their Medicaid programs to deliver better health care with better outcomes for less money. North Carolina is prepared to do it. We’ve been asking for a federal waiver to do that for a long time without the federal government granting that. So, let’s respond to the fact that states can change drastically to the hardships that exist, but you’ve got to empower them to do it."

On terrorist attacks like those in Barcelona and in Charlottesville:

"The terrorist communication are absolutely vital to the intelligence of this country. As terrorists begin to use encrypted communications and platforms that are difficult, if not impossible, to see into it makes the job of our law enforcement and intelligence community that much more difficult. I continue, as chairman of the committee, to try to provide the tools that agencies need to get on the cutting edge of what technology allows them to do, with and without criticism from the public. I don’t believe that I’ve ever crossed the line, but I have a constitutional obligation to the American people to do everything I can to keep them safe. And there are some things that will happen in terrorism where the tool used is dumbed down so much that it is impossible to figure who might be the one who comes out of the building with a knife in their hand that intends to stab as many people as possible. We can minimize the impact, but we can’t stop it."

On President Trump's response to North Korea:

"I was very supportive of his change in strategy, because I’ve lived for seven years with a pause in diplomacy and watched the North Koreans continue to advance not only their missile technology but their nuclear technology. The president, I might have chosen different words than he used, but I see nothing wrong with basically saying to the region, especially to the Chinese, you either fix it or there’s going to be a war. And I think that in this exchange, whether it was Kim Jong Un or it was the Chinese, figuring out the president was serious and all the sudden we saw a pullback on the part of North Korea. This will not be the last time we will be tested. It’s not the first time we’ve been tested, but clearly the stakes are much higher because of the absence of engagement and holding them accountable for the last seven years."

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