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.”