Home Ralph Northam Video: Summary, Comments on Final Debate Between Ralph Northam, Tom Perriello

Video: Summary, Comments on Final Debate Between Ralph Northam, Tom Perriello


Ralph Northam and Tom Perriello held their final, half-hour debate, recorded a few days ago and aired this morning on NBC 4. See below for video. Also see some comments/observations below the video.

  • Both candidates correctly pointed out that Donald Trump has made a bunch of things – health care, Chesapeake Bay protection, immigration, you name it – a state issue, so it’s absolutely appropriate to focus on Trump’s threat to our state. As Tom Perriello put it, “Donald Trump’s issues ARE Virginia issues; we’re going to stand as a firewall against that hate.” As Ralph Northam puts it, “we can’t allow [Trump’s hatred and bigotry] in Virginia.”
  • Northam emphasized that the key to jumpstarting Virginia’s economy is “all about workforce development.” For his part, Perriello said it’s about “growing the middle class,” ticking off his proposals to offer “two years of free community college, trade school or apprenticeship programs,” “a student debt forgiveness program,” an increase in the minimum wage, “a universal pre-k year because the early childhood development piece of this is so important,” and “an ambitious plan on clean energy, including energy efficiency and renewables.” According to Perriello, “trickle-down” economics is a lie, and Ed Gillespie “almost wrecked the American economy that way; he now wants to bring those terrible, recession kind of policies into Virginia.”
  • Perriello said he’s the “only one from either party who’s actually offered how to pay for every single proposal that we’ve put out there this year, and I think that’s important for addressing the cynicism in both parties.”
  • Northam said college affordability is key to workforce development, also argued that we’ve “underfunded [college] at the state level” and that we need to “continue to take in-state students.” Northam emphasized his “G3 program” – “get skilled, get a job and give back.” Northam said he’d fund this via “criminal justice reform” and also a “top-to-bottom review of our agencies.”
  • Asked to cite “one of your biggest legislative or policy mistakes or regrets,” Northam said “I don’t really have any regrets.” He then cited the smoking ban in restaurants, said “I proposed it, it was passed in the Senate and then it was defeated in the House.” Northam said he “went back the very next year with the same language” and he helped get it passed.  Except that when you go back to the press accounts at the time, they talk about the fact that this was then-Governor Tim Kaine’s idea, that Kaine got  most of the credit – along with folks like House Speaker Bill Howell. For instance, according to this 2/6/09 WaPo article, which doesn’t mention Ralph Northam at all, “Kaine and Howell started working behind the scenes on a compromise months ago.” Also note, from that same WaPo article, that “anti-smoking and health advocates” like the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association “vowed…to fight the bill” because they said it was “a step backward,” “a bit a of a missed opportunity,” etc. Also note that the bill’s language was watered down between 2008, when it failed, and 2009, when it passed. So…not sure about Northam’s claim that he introduced the same language in 2008 and 2009, but the final language certainly wasn’t the same as when it started out. But the main point is that this was mostly Tim Kaine’s (and Bill Howell’s) accomplishment.
  • Also in response to Julie Carey’s question about past mistakes, Tom Perriello owned up – as he has dozens if not hundreds of times this campaign – to his bad vote for the Stupak amendment. That’s honesty, and it’s much appreciated, at least by this Virginia voter.
  • On working with a Republican House Speaker – assuming it’s still a Republican House Speaker – Perriello noted that he won in a deeply red district and has spent time a great deal of time as a peace negotiator in Africa and elsewhere bringing together people who have “literally been killing each other for years,” so he’s confident he can bring together people in Richmond. For his part, Northam said he’s worked with Speaker Cox “for 10 years in Richmond and we’ve gotten some good things done together.” Northam said that both Cox and he are “educators.” Northam also talked about the importance of “SOL reform” and “pre-K education.” Northam talked about paying for pre-K via a “private and public partnership as we move forward.” Not sure what that means exactly…
  • On immigration and Gov. McAuliffe’s pardoning of a “minor traffic offense” by an undocumented Salvadoran woman (Liliana Cruz Mendez) facing deportation, Northam said “I commend Governor McAuliffe for doing that…the United States of America is a country of immigrants, we need to welcome immigrants to the Commonwealth of Virginia.” Northam said we “can’t continue to fearmonger and browbeat immigrants.” Carey followed up and asked Northam if he’d actively move to pardon immigrants if he’s elected governor; Northam responded that he’d take that on a “case-by-case process,” but that “the immigrant [sic] issue is a federal issue…we don’t need to be doing their job for them.” I’d just note that states and localities play an important role in the immigration issue, in addition to the federal government, which of course is the most important player on this. Perriello said he would “absolutely look for these cases [like Liliana Cruz Mendez]; I think the state has a huge role to play in ensuring the dignity and security of all the human beings inside our border, regardless of status.” Perriello also argued that Virginia needs to remain an “inclusive and loving state” at this “very scary time right now,” and that this will require “strong leadership from the Governor’s mansion.” Bingo, nailed it!
  • On “Obamacare,” Perriello said he preferred the first version of the ACA, which “included a public option…negotiation of [lower] prescription drug rates…removal of the anti-trust provisions.” Perriello added that we need to “protect the essential benefits package,” “create an environment of greater competition” and get the “Medicaid expansion that a Republican legislature has been opposing.” Northam said he agrees with Trump that health care is complicated. He argued that “there are some great things about the Affordable Care Act” (e.g, pre-existing conditions), that we need Medicaid expansion and “interstate competition.” The problems with the latter are that: a) “Interstate sale of health insurance is unlikely to increase competition”; and b) “Insurers can already sell insurance across state lines and so far it hasn’t lower costs or improved care.”  Also see this NY Times piece, which explains that “The idea of developing a more national market for health insurance has become a major part of Republican health reform orthodoxy,” also that “Critics of the across-state-lines plan worry about negative consequences of letting insurers shop for the state regulator of their choice.” In short, no thanks.
  • On tolling and the gas tax, Northam said “we HAVE gone overboard on tolling,” raised Metro as a “vitally important” issue for Northern Virginia, and said he’d support putting a floor on the gas tax. Perriello said that, as an Alexandria resident, he knows all about the terrible Northern Virginia traffic. Perriello argued that “we need to invest in the traffic situation, we need to invest in public transit; we’re the only candidate from either party who’s put revenue on the table, serious revenue to invest in education and infrastructure.”
  • In his closing statement, Perriello said this is “really about leadership,” that he’s “sick and tired of hearing what’s possible and not possible,” that “leadership is about starting with what actually solves the problem.” Perriello said leadership is “about making tough choices…not accepting a Virginia Way that’s choked too much of the kind of solutions we need for a new generation.” He said we need to “do two things”: 1) “resist without flinching the hate and bigotry of Donald Trump”; 2) “offer a positive vision of an inclusive economy that leaves no race or region in Virginia behind.” That basically sums up why I’m voting for Tom Perriello on June 13. 🙂 Northam said “we need a leader in Virginia that will stand up to President Trump and his hatred and bigotry and recklessness.” He said we need a leader who will “fight for progressive Democratic values” (e.g., “commonsense gun legislation” and “access to women’s reproductive health care” and environmental protection). Northam asked whether babies today would grow up having access to a clean environment, inclusive communities, world-class education, affordable and quality healthcare. All excellent questions, and let me just end by stating clearly that although i strongly support Tom Perriello for the Democratic nomination on June 13, either of these good Democrats will be INFINITELY superior to “Enron Ed” Gillespie and his ticket of right-wing extremists. I will strongly support whoever Democrats nominate on June 13, and I hope that all of us will commit to the same.

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