UPDATE 3:50 pm: You can now watch the debate – see video at the right. It starts at about 23 minutes in…
FYI, a few Twitter feeds to follow include: @TerryMcAuliffe @VADemocrats @GwenRocco @BrianCoy @AshleyBauman @brbilberry @scontorno @PilotOnPolitics @benpershing and the “hash tag” #VBADebate.
UPDATE 12:43 pm: @LarrySabato tweets, “I give edge to McAuliffe because there’s no way for Cuccinelli to win with current scandal headlines. (“Thanks, Bob!” say KC staffers.)” Hahahahaha, gotta love it! 🙂
UPDATE 12:42 pm: @Lis_Smith tweets, “No other way to put it: @TerryMcAuliffe just drank @KenCuccinelli’s milkshake. Much more mainstream, gubernatorial, & in control.” So true.
UPDATE 12:40 pm: Think Progress is up with a story, “Virginia GOP Nominee For Governor: I Still Believe Gay People Are ‘Soulless’ And ‘Self Destructive.'”
UPDATE 12:35 pm: I went into this very worried that Ken Cuccinelli would beat Terry McAuliffe, not because he’s better on the issues – he certainly is NOT! – but simply because he’s been doing political debates for years and has gotten very skilled at it. But in this debate, seriously Terry kicked butt. I thought Cuccinelli was flustered, kept dodging questions and going back to tired, rote right-wing talking points (also, a lot of cheap shots). At one point, he seemed on the verge of tears, he was getting pounded so badly. It was really a sight to behold. Great job by Terry McAuliffe, the next governor of Virginia!
UPDATE 12:33 pm: Closing statement by Cuccinelli, claims he’s put his adult lifetime putting Virginians first (note: except, of course, for LGBT Virginians, middle class Virginians, women Virginians, etc, etc.). Cuccinelli says he’s the only candidate who showed “some commitment to Virginia prior to running for governor.” Claims he can do the job starting on Day #1, will focus on putting middle class job creation first (note: that is, after he bans abortion and contraception, kills transportation, education and Virginia’s economic future, etc.)
UPDATE 12:30 pm: Closing statement by Terry focuses on growing the economy, needing to invest in transportation to keep Virginia strong. Terry stresses that he supported the bipartisan transportation compromise, because it’s the right thing to do for Virginia. That’s an important window, in Terry’s view, for what kind of governor he’d be. Terry says Cuccinelli led Tea Party opposition to that legislation, opposed it for ideological reasons. There is a choice between rigid ideology and mainstream compromise in this election. We can do a lot for Virginia if we back mainstream compromise. “Mainstream, bipartisan solutions.” “It matters” who’s governor.
UPDATE 12:25 pm Final question is on immigration. Terry says he hopes Congress passes comprehensive immigration reform, it’s disappointing that the government’s in gridlock. Terry strongly supports DREAM Act, would sign it into law. Also supports a path to earned citizenship. Need to treat people with fairness. Cuccinelli says we’re a nation of immigrants, talks about attending naturalization ceremonies, then attacks the federal government for “messing up.” Cuccinelli claims he wants “some sort of compromise” on immigration. Attacks Terry for the “EB-5 program,” for not releasing his tax returns, blah blah blah. Note that Cuccinelli didn’t really answer the question – yet again. Terry says, it’s sort of sad, we could have ended on a high note, but “it is what it is.” Says we are a better state when we are open and welcoming to bring people, says Alfonso Lopez and Tom Rust brought the DREAM Act further than it’s ever gotten in Virginia. Cuccinelli doesn’t directly answer follow-up question on pathway to earned citizenship, claims he has no position. Huh?
UPDATE 12:19 pm: Woodruff question on sequestration. Cuccinelli starts babbling about the federal deficit, actually says he’d favor having tax increases on the table. Again, WTF? Terry says sequestration will be a disaster for Virginia. Says he disagrees with President Obama on the defense cuts (huh? how was this President Obama’s fault? last I checked it was 99% the Republicans’ fault). Terry says we need to diversify our economy. Cuccinelli says the reason we’ve done well in Virginia economically is because of “right to work” and low taxes. Of course, the fact is that Virginia has been heavily dependent on the federal government, but god forbid Cuccinelli would ever acknowledge that. Terry says he’d work with the federal government, Cuccinelli would fight them all at every turn. Terry says he’ll fight federal government if it hurts even 1 Virginia job. Other than that, he’ll work WITH the federal government on things like cybersecurity.
UPDATE 12:14 pm: Terry notes that Medicaid expansion is paid 100% first three years. Bill Bolling, Virginia Chamber of Commerce, hospitals, etc. are all for it. This is an important economic driver for Virginia. “Why would we possibly not want to bring that money back? It’s OUR money!” Terry also notes that “some very conservative governors” have accepted the Medicaid expansion. Cuccinelli says adding 400k people to Medicaid rolls will harm quality of care because we don’t have enough doctors and nurses. WTF?!? Is this a bad joke? Terry says Medicaid expansion is critical to our future, and that not taking the money will seriously harm Virginia. Cuccinelli calls it a “financing shell game,” goes back to the Big Lie about “gutting Medicare funding” (Romney was called out on that a gazillion times during last year’s presidential campaign; Cuccinelli apparently liked it so much he’s bringing it back for the 2013 Virginia gov race – lol).
UPDATE 12:10 pm: Woodruff question about Affordable Care Act. Terry says it’s not a perfect law, but it is the law of the land. Medicaid expansion would give 400,000 Virginians access to life-saving care. Terry says we need to reform the healthcare delivery system. If we don’t accept the Medicaid money, it will hurt Virginia hospitals. Cuccinelli claims Obamacare is failing “piece by piece,” He also attacks Terry for supporting the “public option,” claiming (erroneously) that it would have been “even worse.” I’ve just gotta ask, does ANYONE know what Cooch is ranting and raving about? The guy’s completely bonkers, not to mention dead wrong. He throws out the right-wingnut straw man about “growing government” as an excuse not to expand Medicaid. Crazy.
UPDATE 12:09 pm: Judy Woodruff asks if the candidates would support McDonnell resigning? Cuccinelli dodges, claims it’s not appropriate, that he started one of the investigations. McAuliffe says only McDonnell knows the facts, let’s let the investigation get the facts out, Democrats calling for his resignation should stand down for now.
UPDATE 12:08 pm: Terry challenges Cuccinelli to pledge to issue an executive order about restricting/banning gifts. Terry says it’s important for transparency, important to grow our economy.
UPDATE 12:00 pm: Terry rips Cuccinelli on Jonnie Williams. Cuccinelli disclosed once FBI agents were all over Virginia looking at this. Need an independent ethics commission, $100 gift limit – “Ken, you can buy a lot of turkey with 100 bucks.” Cuccinelli says he “was disclosing all along.” Says a “Democrat prosecutor” cleared him of illegality. Why can’t he say “Democratic?” Is someone THIS juvenile, nasty and divisive really someone we want as Governor of Virginia? Terry says that Mike Herring’s report says the AG should have been prosecuted, but the Virginia disclosure laws are insufficient. Terry says this report makes it perfectly clear what Cuccinelli was doing for Jonnie Williams. “Quid Pro Quo.” Cuccinelli says that’s just absolutely wrong. Cuccinelli seriously sounds like he’s about to cry. Seriously, though, Terry is ripping Cuccinelli a new one in this debate. This is truly a sight to behold. Terry points out a judge took the case away from Cuccinelli because of a conflict of interest, that Cuccinelli hasn’t gotten Virginia tax money back. Cuccinelli keeps claiming what Terry’s saying is inaccurate. Judy Woodruff asks Cuccinelli WHY did you accept Jonnie Williams’ gifts? Cuccinelli says he was “substituting for the governor” when he met Jonnie Williams. My god, isn’t THAT rich?!? LOL Says “it worked out very well” – hahaha. Also claims he “wasn’t made aware of it” (that’s when he was “walled off,” apparently, which is ANOTHER major failing). Cuccinelli says he’d support any gift cap or ban. Great, AFTER he took $1,500 turkey dinners from Jonnie Williams, etc. Cucc refers to McDonnell’s scandal(s).
UPDATE 11:54 am: Woodruff asks Terry about Greentech Automotive. Terry says he’ll bring a 42-year business career to the job. He’ll be a governor who understands the ups and downs of business. It’s not easy starting a car company. Nissan took 18 years to develop the Leaf, our company’s done it in 4 years. That’s what you want – an entrepreneur. Cuccinelli attacks Terry for taking Mississippi tax money, abandoning the people of Virginia. Cuccinelli says Terry should invest his own money. Cuccinelli says Terry will say whatever he thinks he needs to say to get elected, that the notion of Terry being a businessman is offensive to real businessmen. Terry says Cuccinelli has no business experience, he has 42 years, and it’s up and down, fiduciary duty to shareholders, “a fidicuary duty that you forgot, Ken, when you were taking money from Jonnie Williams.” Terry rips into Cuccinelli for Star Scientific, Jonnie Williams. A $1,500 turkey dinner? Terry says “That’s a lot of turkey!” Hahahaha – great line. Cuccinelli says he’s admitted his own mistakes, is committed to transparency, has put 8 years of his tax returns out there, why won’t Terry do so?
UPDATE 11:51 am: Terry asks Cuccinelli about his pledge to focus on transportation, and then admitting that he misled voters (“they bought it”). Terry asks, why did Cuccinelli intentionally mislead voters? Cuccinelli says he pushed concept of HOT lanes, would have preferred that to the Silver Line. Oh great. Terry says it’s Cuccinelli’s own quote, it’s not an “assault,” and there’s nothing funny about it. Terry says Cuccinelli says one thing, does another – “you are the true Trojan Horse of Virginia politics,” has made Virginia a national laughingstock. (Note: Here’s the video of Cuccinelli chuckling about how he snookered the voters.)
UPDATE 11:47 am: Terry says this transportation bill was a “defining moment for Virginia.” If we hadn’t done it, we could have been one of the only states in the nation that couldn’t even have accepted federal matching funds – billions of dollars. Terry’s absolutely right on this. Terry says “I was all in for transportation.” Cuccinelli claims Terry’s taking credit for other people’s work, that he had nothing to do with the transportation bill. Cuccinelli says the federal money would be where the Project Labor Agreements would come in. And those are evil, in Cuccinelli’s bizarre worldview. Terry says we can go over this over and over, but Cuccinelli is wrong.
UPDATE 11:44 am: Terry says, correctly, that Cuccinelli has a hard time even talking about transportation. But this is crucial for Virginia’s quality of life, economy, emergency response. Terry says this was our one shot, and he commends Bob McDonnell for stepping up on this. Cuccinelli confirms that he thought Metro to Dulles was a mistake. Says his focus as governor would be to implement transportation law as efficiently as possible (whatever that means). Cuccinelli now attacking Tim Kaine for amending the 2007 transportation bill and supposedly making it “unconstitutional.”
UPDATE 11:40 am: Question about transportation. Terry says he supported the bipartisan, mainstream transportation legislation, while Cuccinelli opposed it. Our rating as best state to do business has been falling due to transportation. “I am all in on transportation.” Cuccinelli said he’s kill the Silver Line. Terry says he’s for Metro to Dulles, Loudoun County. “I’m all for transportation, my opponent’s all against transportation.” Cuccinelli says he lives in NOVA and understands how important it is. Doesn’t want transportation money to go to “line union pockets.” WTF? Can we say straw man?!? What bull. Note that Cuccinelli never responds substantively, such as why he OPPOSED the bipartisan transportation bill. “Union Terry vs. Frugal Ken.” Again, WTF? That’s just stupid.
UPDATE 11:36 am: Cuccinelli asks Terry about Martinsville jobs, “Chinese electric car company,” why did you choose Mississippi over Martinsville. McAuliffe says he would have loved to put the company there, that businesses have to make decisions based on fiduciary responsibility, that Bill Bolling has called Cuccinelli’s attacks on this subject “baseless.” Terry says we’ve got to do broadband, transportation. Cuccinelli says Terry had his choice, “and he picked Terry over the people over Virginia.” Cuccinelli says “so you picked Mississippi, so run for governor of Mississippi,” that he went there for its tax money. Cuccinelli says Terry’s about “influence-peddling deals.”
UPDATE 11:35 am: Cuccinelli claims he has a “consistent position on life,” yet he just dodged a question on whether he’d sign a personhood bill. He also favors capital punishment, of course. Cuccinelli says his views on homosexuality “haven’t changed.” Wow.
UPDATE 11:33 am: Terry says Cuccinelli has a long history on this. Bullied the Board of Health on abortion clinics, director resigned in protest. Has said he wants abortions to disappear. First women’s health center has already shut down, in Norfolk. These centers provide critical care for women – cancer screening, birth control, etc. Cuccinelli pushed “personhood” legislation when he was in the State Senate – those are HIS actions. He can stand up here and talk about jobs and transportation, but he’s done nothing but hurt those and pushed a social agenda.
UPDATE 11:31 am: Woodruff asks Cuccinelli about making abortion, contraception illegal. Cuccinelli dodges, talks about creating jobs. Says he “sincerely holds beliefs about protecting life.” Does “not expect to be using political capital of governor’s office” to push his social agenda. Yet he used the Attorney General’s “political capital” to do just that. This is basically “Etch a Sketch,” trying to reinvent himself after years as a culture warrior. Cuccinelli dodges question about whether he’d sign bill saying life begins at conception.
UPDATE 11:26 am: Cuccinelli claims Terry calling out his heinous, bigoted views on gays and lesbians is “utterly and completely offensive.” Of course, he doesn’t apologize for them. He then shifts to the attack (of course) – “The only candidate in this race who’s chased business out of Virginia is not me, it’s you.” Claims Terry is being intentionally divisive, “demonizing Republicans” to raise money. Terry says he is NOT demonizing Republicans, in fact has been endorsed by numerous Republicans. Terry says there are consequences to Cuccinelli’s actions on social issues. Cuccinelli once said it should be a crime to be gay in Virginia. We have to be opening and welcoming. The attacks on women, gays, immigrants have got to stop. Cuccinelli says the word…wait for it…”Obamacare!” How is that a response to what Terry was just talking about? He also throws out “right to work.” Basically, flailing around. By the way, “right to work” does NOT kill jobs; there have been many studies on this subject. Terry said he won’t change “right to work,” anyway.
UPDATE 11:24 am: Question to Terry about same-sex marriage. Terry says he believes in marriage equality, proud to support it. Will sign early executive order to make sure there’s no discrimination in Virginia based on sexual orientation. If a repeal of the gay marriage ban got to his desk, he’d sign it, but that’s unlikely. My opponent has attacked LGBT people, tried to prevent universities from protecting LGBT people from discrimination, almost blew a major economic deal because of these “mean-spirited, hateful comments.”
UPDATE 11:21 am: Cuccinelli claims Terry is “playing around with the voters of Virginia” (huh?), “pure flim-flammery,” while he’s the straight shooter. That’s a total joke. Cuccinelli claims he’ll look at all the loopholes, but won’t name one specifically (of course not). So far, Terry’s really out-performing Cuccinelli…I’m honestly surprised, as Cuccinelli is a slick, smooth debater (albeit a pathological liar).
UPDATE 11:19 am: Cuccinelli goes back to his boilerplate, GOP talking points about the wonders of tax cuts. Also, a canned line, “This isn’t Washington, Terry.” “A Washington insider, Virginia outsider.” “We have to balance our budget.” Just realize, this is all complete nonsense from Cuccinelli. Terry says “we’ve heard these attacks before,” Cuccinelli was actually laughed at (I was there, have it on video – Terry is correct) for claiming he hadn’t overdone it on social issues.
UPDATE 11:18 am: McAuliffe says you can’t stand up here and propose billions in tax cuts that we can’t afford, as it will come directly out of education and transportation. Notes that Mark Warner, Vince Callahan, Sharon Bulova, editorial boards all say that could be devastating, result in local real estate taxes going up.
UPDATE 11:16 am: Cuccinelli says there are billions of dollars in “loopholes” he can cut. That’s a bunch of bull, frankly…what Republicans always say, but NEVER do. Given that Cuccinelli is in the pocket of the fossil fuel industries and other big corporations, there is no way this will happen.
UPDATE 11:14 am: McAuliffe says Virginia has to be open and welcoming, but it’s very hard to bring businesses here when you’re attacking climate scientists, women’s reproductive rights, LGBT Virginians. Says localities should consider looking at cutting regressive taxes. But says we’ll have new funds from the Medicaid expansion, will “turbocharge our economy,” will free up $500 million in the general fund.
UPDATE 11:12 am: Cuccinelli attacks Terry for raising taxes. Says we need to diversify our economy, we need job growth by “reducing the growth in government spending” (WTF? Virginia’s SLASHED its budgets the past 5 years or so!). Cooch says, as much as my opponent doesn’t like my jobs plan, it IS a jobs plan. (Uh, no it’s not…it’s a regressive giveaway to rich people and corporations – huge mistake.)
UPDATE 11:10 am: Question to Terry about how he’d afford to pay teachers more. Terry says there are tens of millions of dollars in tax incentives that could be ended. I’m not going to make promises I can’t keep.
UPDATE 11:08 am: McAuliffe says Virginia’s at an economic crossroads. Stimulus is over, sequestration is here, budget cuts will continue for the foreseeable future. With these challenges come tremendous opportunities. Need to prepare Virginians for 21st century jobs. It matters who will serve as our next governor. It matters what the governor will focus on. We know what my opponent will focus on. Cuccinelli says he’ll focus on jobs, then spends his time on social ideological agenda. When Virginians today hear promises by Cuccinelli, just remember the promises made in the past. Need to focus on mainstream economic issues, education, transportation.
UPDATE 11:06 am: Cuccinelli says he’s got the experience, won’t need “on-the-job training.” Talks about his Italian grandfather the “bare-knuckles boxer in the Depression.” “Dignity of work.” Talks about jobs for the middle class, “not the well connected.” Says Virginians need a governor they can trust. Need to push back against Washington, and claims the “candidate from Washington” can’t do it.
UPDATE 11:05 am: Moderator Judy Woodruff being introduced, comes on stage. Two minute opening statements…a bit of confusion as to who’s supposed to go first.
UPDATE 11:02 am: Rules of the debate being laid out by the VBA’s Tom Bagby. Candidates being introduced. Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli walk to their podiums (podia?). They shake hands.
UPDATE 11:00 am: Currently about 1,000 people watching the debate. That’s utterly pitiful in a state of 8 million people. So much for an informed, engaged citizenry?
UPDATE 10:52 am: Remember, as this debate is about to begin, that Ken Cuccinelli not only denies climate science (97% of scientists strongly disagree with him, and they’re a gazillion times more qualified to know), he actually launched a medieval-style witch hunt against one of the leading climate scientists, then-UVA Professor Michael Mann. It’s simply astounding that someone like Cuccinelli could even be CONSIDERED for public office in 2013 America, let alone for high office like governor. Sad.
UPDATE 10:44 am: Extremist, bigot, and all-around loony-tunes @JacksonForLG (EW Jackson) tweets, “I am ready for Ken Cuccinelli’s first debate at 11 AM today. You can watch it at PBS on line. Ken has a strong grasp of the issues.” That really says it all about Cuckoo, I’d say.
UPDATE 10:38 am: By the way, the first one of these I ever watched was in 2005, back in the days when there was no live streaming, no YouTube, no Twitter, no Facebook, etc. So…I drove to the Greenbrier to watch Tim Kaine debate Jerry “The Duck” Kilgore. Then, in 2006, I went as Jim Webb’s campaign blogger. Fun times, but it’s a lot easier to just watch it – and live blog it – from home!
UPDATE 10:28 am: @PilotOnPolitics (Julian Walker) tweets, “Before #vbadebate, #vagov candidates set expectations @TerryMcAuliffe concedes @KenCuccinelli debate skills sez he’ll downplay social stuff.”
UPDATE 10 AM Saturday: I’ve added some pre-debate photos, and a cool infographic about Cuccinelli’s ties to slimeball Jonnie Williams, in the comments section of this post.