Home 2013 races Live Blog: Virginia Gubernatorial Debate (10/24/13)

Live Blog: Virginia Gubernatorial Debate (10/24/13)


You can watch tonight’s Virginia gubernatorial debate, which begins at 7 pm (see below for my live blog) at Virginia Tech (photo of debate auditorium by WDBJ 7), on either WDBJ 7 or Politico. If you’re following the debate on Twitter, or if you’re tweeting yourself, you can use the hash tag #VAGovDebate. A few Twitter handles you might want to check out include: @TerryMcAuliffe @KenCuccinelli @JoshSchwerin @vademocrats @briancoy @gwenrocco and @brbilberry Also @MoElleithee @PilotOnPolitics @omeola @RTDNolan @JulieCareyNBC @RTDSchapiro @dsherfinski @DKaplan_WDBJ7 and @chelyendavis

UPDATE 8:21 pm: Brian Coy tweets, “.@KenCuccinelli refuses to meet with reporters at arranged press gaggle”

UPDATE 8:18 pm: Gwen Rocco tweets, “Puppies? In State Sen, Cuccinelli was one of 5 senators to oppose bill to regulate puppy mills http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bi… ”  Roger Simon of Politico tweets, “Does Cuccinelli like gay puppies? Does he like puppies that support gun control? Virginians want to know.”

UPDATE 7:58 pm: In sum, Terry went into this debate leading in every poll taken since early summer, so all he needed was a draw. Instead, he did even better tonight, out-performing Ken Cuccinelli both substantively and stylistically. While Cuccinelli flailed around, ranted about the supposed evils of “Obamacare” (not to mention “puppies” – WTF?), and claimed that telling the truth about his own extreme record and his own intolerant remarks over the years has somehow constituted a “false attack” on him, Terry McAuliffe talked about moving Virginia forward in the pragmatic, moderate style of Mark Warner. Just as importantly, McAuliffe spoke passionately about the need to bring people together in a Commonwealth that’s “open and welcoming to all.” The contrast between these two candidates in that area  – and in all areas, really – couldn’t be greater, as Ken Cuccinelli has been perhaps THE most divisive figure in Virginia political history. As an added “bonus,” Cuccinelli’s also been corrupt and ineffectual, for instance in the case of CONSOL Energy, which came up tonight several times. The bottom line is that on November 5, Virginians have an important choice to make. Fortunately it’s not a difficult one. As newspapers, organizations, and individuals from across the political spectrum have all concluded, Ken Cuccinelli would be a disaster for Virginia’s future – intolerant, economically destructive, divisive – while Terry McAuliffe would focus on things Virginians actually care about – jobs, education, transportation, affordable health care – in a tolerant, diverse and welcoming state. All that was crystal clear if you watched tonight’s debate, and all that will be crystal clear starting in January 2014, when Terry McAuliffe takes the oath of office as the next Governor of Virginia.

UPDATE 7:55 pm: Closing statements. Cooch claims Terry’s ads are “false,” but of course they’re true. Attacks Terry again on Obamacare. “If you want to reject Obamacare…you’ve got your chance on November 5.” Claims Terry wants to raise your taxes (based on his made-up nonsense numbers). Says Terry’s all about “platitudes.” Terry cites Mark Warner, notes he also was attacked for not having Richmond experience and for coming from a business background, yet he turned into a superb governor – “and Mark Warner is out campaigning for me every day.” We need that same kind of governor again, “I want to govern in that style to move Virginia forward.”

UPDATE 7:52 pm: Question on recent graduates finding jobs. Cooch says “get the economy going faster.” Well, yeah, but his supply-side/trickle-down garbage would HURT the economy. Of course, attacks Obamacare, claims it’s been terrible for hiring (not true). “My opponent didn’t think Obamacare went far enough.” Terry says we need to grow and diversify the economy. Talks about R&D, nanotechnology, biotech, new cutting-edge areas. Virginia has to be seen as open and welcoming, but people won’t move here when Cuccinelli’s trying to outlaw contraception and persecute gay Virginians.

UPDATE 7:47 pm: Question on armed security guards at school, shootings. Terry talks about resource officers, but does not support arming our teachers. Terry says he doesn’t care what grade he got from the NRA, he doesn’t want to see another Virginia Tech, Newtown, Aurora, ever again. Need to work on mental illness. There ARE people who shouldn’t buy weapons, which is why we need universal background checks. Cooch says none of us want to see gun tragedies again. The problem is, he’s EARNED his “A rating from the NRA,” by opposing reasonable gun safety measures supported by 80%, 90% of Virginians. Why is that?!? Terry says this is a fundamental difference in the race, that he supports universal background checks and Cooch doesn’t. This is a simple process, it takes 5-10 minutes, “I’ve gone through it.” “I am standing on the stage at Virginia Tech…it is time” for universal background checks.

UPDATE 7:42 pm: Question on education. Cooch says his greatest concern with higher education is affordability (then why does his plan slash the budget for education?). Cites Liberty University (I’m not kidding here) as a model of some sort, even though Liberty’s one of the worst-rated schools in the country. It’s also a hard-right-wing, theocratic/fundamentalist school that almost none of us would even dream of attending. Again, Cooch is bonkers. Terry talks about affordability, says we need to increase financial aid, bring efficiencies to education to save money. Says we can’t do any of this if you cut revenues by $1.4 billion. You also can’t build our great universities if you spend your time suing them. Cooch claims we’d get more money, magically, by a growing economy, even as he slashes $1.4 billion (or more) in revenues. Then segues into attacking Terry for not knowing who’s in Virginia’s cabinet. Uh…does anyone? I don’t off the top of my head, and I cover this stuff! Ridiculous.

UPDATE 7:40 pm: Terry talks about access to early pre-K, early childhood development, will apply for federal funding. Cooch quotes Ronald Reagan, who Tea Partiers like him NEVER would have supported (Reagan grew the government, cranked up the debt, signed a mass amnesty of “illegals,” negotiated to get rid of all nuclear weapons, etc, etc. All Tea Party heresy!).

UPDATE 7:39 pm: Cooch claims he has a plan, says Terry’s all about “platitudes.” “I like puppies, but I don’t bring a puppy home if I don’t have a plan on how to deal with that puppy.” “He’s all puppy, no plan.” Hahahaha, you’ve just got to laugh – not with, but AT this guy! Completely bonkers.

UPDATE 7:35 pm: Question about major accomplishment as governor. Cooch says it’s all about the economy, cites “damage” from federal government that “we all know has to shrink.” Uh, no we don’t Cooch; in fact, it’s already BEEN shrinking, and that’s been hurting the country badly. Of course, good right winger that he is, the answer to everything is corporate tax cuts. I believe it’s known as “trickle down,” aka “voodoo economics.” Uses the bizarre phrase “Obamacare part-time work.” Terry says jobs/the economy, cites challenge of sequestration and budget cuts, thus the need to grow and diversify our economy and the need for education, R&D.

UPDATE 7:33 pm: Cooch attacks Terry for being good at raising money. Wait, Cooch is a Republican who hates money? Got it. Uses the phrase “unindicted co-conspirator,” claims he believes “good policy is good politics.” Says Terry is about “you help me, I help you.”  Terry cites Cooch’s book, where he says Social Security and Medicare are there to make people dependent on government. Terry says Cooch got $100k donation from CONSOL Energy, while the Attorney General’s office was secretly providing advice to the company on how to rip off SW Virginians.

UPDATE 7:28 pm: Question about Robert Sarvis’ exclusion from the debate. Let’s watch Cooch dodge HIS responsibility for rejecting Sarvis’ participation in this debate. Brags that he’s been endorsed by Ron Paul. Yeah, this racist wacko. Terry says we’d love to have Sarvis in the debate, we were happy to have him. Says Cooch was one of only 3 Attorneys General who refused to sign a letter urging reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Agrees with Sarvis on stopping attacks on women, LGBT Virginians, etc.

UPDATE 7:23 pm: Question on compromising vs. fighting for principles. Terry mentions the transportation package. Says he trusts women to make their own health care decisions. Says Cuccinelli sponsored “personhood” legislation,  threatened and bullied the Board of Health to shut down women’s health clinics, referred to gay Virginians as soulless human beings – “who talks like that?” You can’t grow our economy with this mean-spirited language. He wanted to define when you can get divorce. He opposed increasing child support payments to rise with inflation. Cooch says he’s the only person with experience actually working on a bipartisan basis (HUH?!?). Says Terry didn’t do anything meaningful on transportation (really?!?). Says he didn’t compromise on property rights. “There is a time to fight and there is a time to compromise.” Claims he’s offered compromises on abortion clinics (WTF?). Also claims “personhood” was bipartisan, had “Democrat support.” Ugh, this guy is just appalling. Terry talks about the endorsements he’s received, including from papers that endorsed Mitt Romney and George Allen. “Pragmatism over ideology.” To move forward, we have to do it in a bipartisan manner.

UPDATE 7:18 pm: Question about economics and jobs, particularly in Southside and Southwestern Virginia. Cooch bashes the government (of course), emphasizes private sector job creation. Claims the “regulatory onslaught from Washington” is hurting Southside and SW Virginia, which is a total lie. Goes off about the “war on coal,” which is another Big Lie. The reality is that cheap natural gas has been undercutting coal, not any “war” on it. Also, reminder that Cooch is a climate science denier funded by the Koch brothers, among others. Hmmmm. Terry says we have to invest in these communities. Medicaid expansion would help greatly. Transportation – my opponent opposed it, along with the Tea Party, Terry says he supported it. Mentions the need for broadband, cellphone coverage, carbon capture and sequestration. You can’t grow an economy if you sue universities because you disagree with a scientist’s view on climate change. Cooch claims 1/4 of our electricity should come from renewables by 2025, and claims this would raise electricity rates, which is a total lie. I’ll find the link later to my article debunking this crap and post it later. Man, this guy’s a piece of work. (here’s the link)

UPDATE 7:15 pm: Question about gun control – universal background checks, high capacity magazines and assault rifles. Terry answers “as a parent,” “as a spouse.” “I’m a gun owner and a hunter, but I support universal background checks.” Mentions conversation with Colin Goddard, who was shot 4 times at Virginia Tech. “Some people should not own guns.” Cuccinelli said what happened at VA Tech is a tragedy, but “none of what you’ve asked about would have affected that tragedy.” Uh huh. Claims it’s ALL about mental health, which is just ridiculous. Brags that he’s “A rated” by the NRA, which of course should be a badge of shame.

UPDATE 7:14 pm: Cooch claims he wants the strongest possible public school system, which of course is laughable given his education plan. Cuccinelli cedes 30 seconds. Terry says he’s not going to have fiscally irresponsible budgeting like Ken Cuccinelli.

UPDATE 7:10 pm: Question on SOLs. Cooch says he doesn’t want to get rid of them, he wants to reform them. Talks about parental choice in education, including being able to move children to private school. Terry says shorter, more essay type tests. SOLs are clearly not working today. We want accountability, but there isn’t today – teachers are teaching to tests; that’s not what they want to do, and students are being forced to learn how to memorize, which is not the type of learning we need to compete in the 21st century economy. Says he doesn’t support Cuccinelli’s proposed constitutional amendment to take money out of public schools and move them into private schools.

UPDATE 7:09 pm: Question on which programs to cut. Terry says you can always bring efficiencies, cites JLARC study. “I’m realistic.” Cuccinelli’s plan has been attacked by both Dems and Republicans – Vince Callahan said it would bring “fiscal disaster.” His plan is like believing he came here on a unicorn tonight. His plan is fiscally irresponsible. Would result in thousands of teachers laid off.

UPDATE 7:07 pm: Cuccinelli claims the Washington Post said a lot of what Terry just said isn’t true. Huh? It did? Claims he’s the only candidate with a plan with “actual details.” He is? Where? And of course he provides no details on how he’d pay for his huge tax cuts. Claims Medicaid is not a “jobs program” it’s “welfare.”

UPDATE 7:05 pm: Question on taxes and spending. Terry says “no new taxes,” says Medicaid expansion is bipartisan. Figure out what savings are first, how much money we have, then make decisions based on priorities. My opponent has proposed $1.4 billion tax cut without any way to pay for it. Plus, E.W. Jackson said Cuccinelli wants to get rid of the corporate income tax. “His plan is a fiscal disaster” for Virginia.

UPDATE 7:03 pm: Cuccinelli launches into attacking Terry, claiming he never did anything in his life basically. Alrighty then. Claims Terry is just “attacking” him, mentions “Obamacare disaster” (shocker) and brags that he was the “first to fight Obamacare.” Says we should send Washington a message and say no to Terry and Obamacare. Nonsensical.

UPDATE 7:01 pm: Terry’s opening statement. Simple question Virginians must answer: who will work with both parties to focus on jobs and education? Have earned support of historic # of Republicans, many of whom have never supported a Dem for gov. Jobs first, partisanship behind. My opponent has become increasingly desperate – false attacks, false claims. He would pursue his divisive agenda in office.

UPDATE 7:00 pm: WDBJ 7 News Anchor Jean Jadhon kicking things off, laying down the rules.

UPDATE 6:55 pm: While you’re waiting for the debate to start, check out How Ken Cuccinelli’s Position On Sodomy Could Set Numerous Sexual Predators Free by Josh Israel of ThinkProgress.

UPDATE 6:49 pm: Washington Times reporter Dave Sherfinski tweeted: “Just interviewed before the #VAGovDebate by @TheDailyShow along with @PilotOnPolitics. Somehow doubt this is going to end well.” 😉

UPDATE 6:45 pm: Brian Coy tweets, “@KenCuccinelli’s performance at tonight’s #VaGovDebate in #SWVA powered by his friends at Consol Energy.” LOL, so true.

UPDATE 6:41 pm: Cuccinelli has been desperately trying to rev up his far-right-wing “base,” so expect a lot of “red meat” tonight, particularly on the hated (by the far-right-wing base, that is) “Obamacare.”

UPDATE 6:11 pm: DPVA Communications Director Brian Coy tweets, “Ready for another #VAGovDebate full of @KenCuccinelli’s desperate and dishonest attacks.” Ralph Northam tweets, “Good luck to my friend @TerryMcAuliffe at tonight’s #VAGovdebate!”

UPDATE 6:02 pm: Lori Haas tweets, “Va Tech & Sandy Hook families call out @KenCuccinelli for ignoring survivors & consistently voting against background checks.”

  • Pre-debate photo by Anna Scholl of Progress Virginia.

  • NotJohnSMosby

    but the guy running the microphones needs to be shot out of a cannon.  Also, the moderator really sucks.

  • From the McAuliffe campaign:

    At tonight’s debate, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe laid out his mainstream vision for growing and diversifying Virginia’s economy, and his commitment to working with Republicans and Democrats alike to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges Virginia faces. On the other hand, Ken Cuccinelli continued to focus on his extreme Tea Party agenda, including calling Medicare “welfare,” touting his support from extreme government shutdown supporters like Ron Paul, reinforcing the fact that Ken Cuccinelli is just too far out of the mainstream.

    Here’s what leaders across the state are saying:

    Norfolk Mayor Paul Fraim

    “Terry knows how important it is to keep our roads and bridges safe. That’s why he supported Governor Bob McDonnell’s bipartisan transportation compromise-the first transportation funding legislation in 27 years. As governor, Terry will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to make sure Virginia’s infrastructure will continue to attract families and businesses to our Commonwealth.”

    Independent Former Delegate Katherine Waddell

    “As governor, Terry will trust Virginia women to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without interference from Richmond. Ken Cuccinelli, on the other hand, has made it clear that his number one priority as governor would be to enact an extreme ideological agenda that would restrict a woman’s ability to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions.”

    Senator Phillip Puckett

    “Ken Cuccinelli has a long record of putting himself and his radical agenda above the people of Virginia. Just this month, the Inspector General concluded that Ken Cuccinelli’s office improperly used taxpayer funds to aid out-of-state energy companies, one of which donated $100,000 to Cuccinelli’s campaign.”

    Republican Former Delegate Vince Callahan

    “As a lifelong Republican, I am supporting Terry McAuliffe because he will work with members of both parties to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges Virginia faces. And tonight, Terry showed he has a mainstream plan to grow our economy, invest in transportation infrastructure, and focus on bringing Virginians together. While his opponent in the race is motivated by an extreme ideological agenda, Terry is focused on strengthening the communities across Virginia and creating more opportunities for the next generation of Virginians.”

    Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones

    “Virginians want a candidate who will create a better future for the Commonwealth -including creating jobs, providing sufficient education funding to maintain Virginia’s high standards, and protecting Virginias’ voting rights, not a candidate who opposes the Medicaid expansion, wants to restrict a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions and focuses on a divisive social agenda as Ken Cuccinelli does. Terry McAuliffe proved tonight he is the only candidate who will lead Virginia forward and is the right choice for the Commonwealth.”

    Tom Walker, Owner, WebTeks

    “As a successful businessman, Terry knows the challenges business owners face in starting and growing their companies. And in tonight’s debate, he showed he is committed to making sure that Virginia’s economy stays strong by improving the state’s infrastructure and making sure we have an educated workforce to attract the best companies to Virginia. While Ken Cuccinelli is focused on an ideological social agenda, Terry McAuliffe is committed to working with both parties to find solutions to challenges our communities face and will put in place policies that will diversify and grow our economy and create jobs in Virginia.”

  • From Progress VA:

    Blacksburg, VA – Hours after survivors and family members from the Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook shootings publicly demanded the candidates for Virginia governor take an uniequivocal stand in favor of comprehensive background checks, Ken Cuccinelli repeatedly dodged the issues in tonight’s debate at Virginia Tech. Although the moderator posed multiple questions regarding public safety and commonsense gun violence prevention measures, Cuccinelli shunned the opportunity to join with the 91% of Virginia gun owners who support background checks.

    “Across the Commonwealth, Virginians are clamoring for commonsense solutions to keep our families safe,” said ProgressVa Executive Director Anna Scholl. “Ken Cuccinelli refused to discuss background checks tonight and wouldn’t even denounce extreme proposals like putting guns in kindergarten classrooms. Instead, he touted his allegiance to the gun manufacturers’ lobby. It’s no wonder, since Cuccinelli has repeatedly against expanding background checks to gun purchases at gun shows.”

    Earlier today, ProgressVA and the Coaltion to Stop Gun Violence released an open letter to Cuccinelli, demanding he release the survey he submitted to the extreme Virginia Citizens Defense League. VCDL describes itself as to the right of the NRA.

  • From the McAuliffe campaign:

    At the final debate of the 2013 gubernatorial campaign tonight, Terry McAuliffe continued to share with Virginians his mainstream vision to grow the economy and support investments in education to keep the Commonwealth competitive. At the same time, Ken Cuccinelli turned to his extreme Tea Party base, launching misleading and desperate attacks against McAuliffe in hopes of a game changer he was unable to deliver.

    Reviews from the Twitterverse:

    @FixSean: No big game-changers in #vagov debate. Cuccinelli needed one.

    @AmyEGardner: @TerryMcAuliffe is more prepared than ever tonight. #VAGovDebate

    @RTDSchapiro: #vagovdebate @TerryMcAuliffe open: Promises bipartisanship — and ‘jobs first.’ Says @KenCuccinelli ‘increasingly desperate.’

    @ryanobles: Strong narrative by @TerryMcAuliffe on ed boards & his potential to work in bi-partisan fashion. A big perception difference. #VaGovDebate

    @benpershing: Cuccinelli notes he has an A rating from the NRA and McAuliffe has an F. (FWIW Tim Kaine had an F rating and won 2012 #vasen race) #vagov

    @daveweigel: No candidate with an “F” rating  from the NRA has carried Virginia since Tim Kaine did 11 months ago. #VAGov

    @RTDSchapiro: #VAGovDebate Citing @@KenCuccinelli stance on gays, @TerryMcAuliffe: ‘We cannot put up walls around #Va is we’re going to continue to grow.’

    @PilotOnPolitics: .@TerryMcAuliffe likens himself to @MarkWarner in closing, a successful bizman w/o Richmond govt. experience who succeeded as gov.

    @AaronBlakeWP: So that puppy quote just flipped this race on its head, right? #vagovdebate

    @scontorno: Cuccinelli seems so irritated by the fact he’s losing to McAuliffe. It’s starting to really show.

  • unstablefan

    Apparently they think the NRA rating comment is a game changer.

    Cause for concern or evidence of delusion?