Home 2019 Elections The Reviews Are In: At Fairfax Debate, Cuccinelli on Defensive for Extreme...

The Reviews Are In: At Fairfax Debate, Cuccinelli on Defensive for Extreme Record and Scandals


From the McAuliffe campaign:

The reviews are in. At last night's Fairfax Chamber debate, Ken Cuccinelli was on the defensive for his extreme social record, including attacks against LGBT Virginians, efforts to block women's access to preventive healthcare, and his refusal to join 47 other Attorneys General to sign a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. Cuccinelli also sidestepped questions about why he accepted $18,000 of gifts and trips from Star Scientific and its CEO Jonnie Williams while sitting on a lawsuit between Star and the state over $1.7 million in unpaid taxes, and why his office was aiding out-of-state energy companies trying to avoid paying Southwest Virginia landowners gas royalties. 

Here's what people are saying about the debate:

Larry Sabato on The Daily Rundown: “This reinforced what the voters and the party bases already think about the two candidates. So, look, it was a good debate that means it was good for McAuliffe—he went in with a lead, he came out with a lead.”

Washington Post’s The Fix: “No knockout blow. That’s good for McAuliffe. Both candidates leaned heavily on arguments and criticisms they’ve made before, and neither landed any big-time hits… But quotables aside, there were no moments that threatened to upend the race. Count it as a slight victory for McAuliffe, who polls show is leading.

Washington Post’s Robert McCartney: “The big question going into Wednesday evening’s critical Virginia gubernatorial debate was whether Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli could find a way to shake up a contest in which Democrat Terry McAuliffe has claimed a modest but meaningful lead.

Cuccinelli failed to do so…

The Republican’s long, well-documented record as a prominent crusader for religious right and tea party causes has made it difficult for him to make a credible appeal to middle-of-the-road voters…

[Cuccinelli] used the office [of Attorney General] to wage high-profile efforts, often unsuccessfully, for pet causes such as opposing Obamacare, abortion, equal rights for gays, and environmental regulation.

Given that, Virginia voters are right to be suspicious that he would act as governor just as he did as the state’s top lawman.”

Politico: “But the hour-long clash at Capital One’s headquarters here, broadcast on NBC affiliates across the state, largely followed the same back-and-forth script of the last several weeks. There was not the kind of pivotal, game-changing moment Cuccinelli hoped could change the trajectory of an off-year race that has pulled away from him and toward Democrat Terry McAuliffe…

McAuliffe also made hay about revelations that an underling of Cuccinelli’s in the attorney general’s office offered advice to Consol Energy — which donated more than $100,000 to the candidate’s campaign — during a dispute with Southwest Virginia landowners over gas royalties. Cuccinelli did not respond specifically to that attack.”

Washington Post: “The debate came at a pivotal moment in the race for governor, with recent polls showing McAuliffe building a small but solid lead…There was no obvious gaffe in the debate, and the sparring ­featured no game-changing pronouncements or exchanges.”

Richmond Times-Dispatch: ““McAuliffe, who hammered Cuccinelli over his positions on abortion and gay rights, said “his experience has been in dividing people.”

“I think Virginia women have had just about enough of Ken Cuccinelli’s experience.”

The hourlong debate, sponsored by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and held at the Capital One Conference Center in McLean, played out against a backdrop of recent polls that show McAuliffe, a businessman and former Democratic National Committee chairman, with a slight lead over Cuccinelli, a tea party conservative who is Virginia’s attorney general and a former state senator.”

AP: “McAuliffe had just told NBC News political director Chuck Todd, the moderator of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce debate, that he supports “marriage equality” and claimed that Cuccinelli had called gays “soulless and self-destructive human beings.” McAuliffe said it was a major difference between the two.

Cuccinelli denounced the quote about gays that McAuliffe had attributed to him as “offensively false.” But at a 2008 Family Foundation event, Cuccinelli, then a state senator, was quoted as saying, “When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.”

Fredericksburg Free Lance Star: “Cuccinelli sidestepped a question about why Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams would give him $18,000 worth of trips and gifts, saying that he had taken the initiative to revise disclosure statements that omitted some of those gifts and that at the time, “what was going on there didn’t seem like a big deal.” 


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articlePolling Puzzle: The Missing Evangelical/Born-Again Voters
Next articleVideo: Chris Graham of the Augusta Free Press on Cuccinelli Inadvertently Making McAuliffe’s Case