I actually drove to this thing in 2005 to watch Tim Kaine debate Jerry “The Duck” Kilgore. I also drove in 2006 to watch Jim Webb debate “Felix Macacawitz” (aka, George Allen). Fun times… So let’s see how many stupid and/or extreme and/or crazy thing “Enron Ed” Gillespie says today.
UPDATE 12:29 pm: Closing statements. Gillespie spews out the standard right-wing crap about…well, everything. Blah blah blah. (see here for more on why I say this is crap) Barf. Northam says that as a doctor, he gets a bit nervous in a room full of so many lawyers. Says he’s a public servant. Will continue to build on the new Virginia economy, lead Virginia to the next level.
UPDATE 12:24 pm: Question on gerrymandering. Gillespie says maps drawn by non-partisan commissions and partisan bodies don’t look much difference. Hmmmm…. Northam says Gillespie is the architect of current-day gerrymandering, also that he will not sign a map that isn’t produced in a non-partisan manner. Politicians shouldn’t be picking their voters in a democracy. Also need to address campaign finance reform in Virginia, which is currently the “wild wild west,” need to get rid of “dark money.” Gillespie implies that Northam’s campaign has benefited from “dark money.”
UPDATE 12:20 pm: Northam asked about things he doesn’t agree with McAuliffe about. Northam heaps praise on McAuliffe’s record. Says he differs with McAuliffe on offshore drilling; “I am promoting renewable energy” in Virginia, “I do not support offshore drilling.” Good! Gillespie says we should have offshore drilling. Shocker. Gillespie says it’s not likely there will be offshore drilling anytime soon regardless, because of economics.
UPDATE 12:15 pm: Question for Gillespie on his support for NRA, opposition to gun control laws. Gillespie says the NRA is a supporter of his, that he supports right to bear arms, “concealed carry” (he claims that supposedly results in less crime; definitely need to check this claim!). Northam says this is a clear distinction between them – “I am very proud of my F rating” from the NRA. “We don’t need guns in our schools.” Says he served in the US Army, he knows all too well what assault weapons do to human beings; has held toddlers who have been shot or shot themselves in his arms. “We have a gun issue…there should be responsible gun ownership…We don’t need any more tragedies” like what happened at Virginia Tech. Gillespie brags about his “A” rating from the extremist NRA. Disgusting. Northam says he’s not about taking people’s guns away, but that universal background checks are commonsense/don’t threaten 2nd amendment rights. Same thing for one gun per month. Now we have a pipeline from Virginia up to New York. Gillespie claims we already have background checks for gun dealers.
UPDATE 12:10 pm: More on the Dreamers and undocumented immigrants. Northam says there is power in every child, no matter where they come from, and that they should have access to higher education. Northam points out that the [GOP-controlled] General Assembly has underfunded our public universities and colleges. Northam says anybody who commits a violent crime should be locked up regardless of immigration status. Gillespie claims Northam is for in-state tuition for “illigal” (very annoying how Gillespie pronounces this word) immigrants and he’s not. Northam dares Gillespie to talk to some of the state’s brightest students, including some who come from families of undocumented immigrants. “It’s no fault of their own.” “It’s about taking care of all Virginians.” Gillespie says he empathizes, but basically screw them. Disgusting. Gillespie claims trying to make college free would be disastrous. Northam says it’s about the American dreams, investing in our future, investing in our youth, investing in workforce development. Northam emphasizes the “give back” portion of his G3 plan.
UPDATE 12:04 am: Question about immigration and Trump’s draconian policies, including vis-a-vis “Dreamers.” Gillespie says he’s proud to be the son of immigrants who came here legally. “We do have to enforce our immigration laws.” Says he agrees we don’t have any “sanctuary cities.” Fearmongers on illegal immigrants and crime, even though there’s no evidence that undocumented immigrants commit crimes at higher rates than native-born Americans. Northam says he supports “Dreamers.” On the travel ban, Northam says he opposes the fearmongering coming out of Washington, that Gillespie’s been missing in action. Northam says he served in Desert Storm and Iraqis were by our side; it’s wrong for America to turn our backs on these people. Says Virginia has to be inclusive, welcoming. Gillespie says he disagrees with Northam on “Dreamers,” that we have “scarce tax dollars” blah blah. Gillespie dodges question about ending DACA, says it’s a federal policy. Slippery!
UPDATE 11:59 am: Question on executing a mentally ill man (Morva). Northam says he admires Gov. McAuliffe, that was a difficult decision, but “I do not agree with the death penalty,” supports life in prison without the possibility of parole. Northam says he has a plan to interrupt the “school-to-prison pipeline.” Need criminal justice reform. Need to take better care of our adolescents. Need to decriminalize marijuana. Gillespie says he supports the death penalty, would weigh mental health very carefully in making decisions on executions. “I’m not going to second guess” McAuliffe on this. Gillespie cites case of 17-year-old Muslim girl being murdered by “someone who was here illegally.” Bashes “sanctuary cities.” Northam says we don’t have sanctuary cities in Virginia. Says he believes in locking up violent criminals no matter what their immigration status is. Need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Need to prevent kids from ever getting to the point where they commit a heinous crime. Need early childhood education, universal pre-k.
UPDATE 11:53 am: Question to Gillespie regarding his criticism over Bob McDonnell’s transportation bill. Gillespie dodges, claims he ACTUALLY criticized Northam about tax increases, NOT about the transportation bill tax increase. Huh??? Gillespie bashes project labor agreements, labor unions. Northam says Gillespie called him an “angry liberal” for supporting McDonnell’s transportation bill. After Republicans got angry at Gillespie for criticizing the bill, then Gillespie backtracked. Northam calls it “duplicity,” “talking out of both sides of your mouth,” we don’t need people who stick their fingers up to see which direction the wind is blowing. “I was proud…to support the 2013 McDonnell transportation plan.” Gillespie blathers about getting the most out of our transportation dollars, but doesn’t address his flip flops, attacks against his own party, etc. He’s a slick/slippery little bugger, that’s for sure.
UPDATE 11:51 am: Northam says he’s for responsible placement of the pipelines that protects our environment. “If they deem them safe and responsible,” then the pipelines will move forward. If not, then he won’t. “At the end of the day, this is a federal project.” Gillespie says he supports pipelines, they’re a “good thing” for Virginia. Says it’s baffling to not support fracking but to support the fracked gas pipelines. Northam says it’s important to protect people’s property rights, says he wrote to DEQ about changing permitting process and they followed his lead.
UPDATE 11:47 am: Northam asks about reducing the unwanted pregnancy rate, contraception. Gillespie says we should be most “adoption-friendly state in the country,” but dodges the actual question and doesn’t talk about his extreme anti-choice views. Gillespie says the pill should be available over the counter. Northam says reproductive freedom equates to economic freedom, need to let women decide what’s best for their bodies, stand up to attacks against women’s reproductive freedom (e.g., TRAP laws, transvaginal ultrasounds, “personhood” legislation).
UPDATE 11:42 am: Question about Virginia’s economy, ranking as top state for business. Northam says Gillespie is “cherry picking” and “rooting against” Virginia’s economy. Northam says he’s not showing Virginia “any love,” despite our economy doing very well. Our economy is not, as Gillespie constantly implies, going to “hell in a handbasket.” “The jobs of the 21st century are in STEAM-related areas.” Gillespie quotes Tom Perriello as saying unemployment rate isn’t as significant as it used to be. I need to go back and check what Perriello actually said, but something tells me that slippery Ed is distorting it. Ugh, now Gillespie is back to his brain-dead talking point about more people moving out of Virginia than moving in the past few years. Gillespie claims “we’re not where we should be and I will get us there.” Riiiiiight. Northam talks about college affordability, the need for the American dream to be there for all Virginians. Mentions his “G3” plan.
UPDATE 11:37 am: Question about how tax cuts in places like Kansas have been disastrous. Gillespie says he’s against BPOL tax, says he wants to cut individual income tax rates by 10%, of course has no plan to pay for this other than waving a magic economic growth wand. Classic supply-side/trickle-down nonsense. Gillespie back to bashing Virginia’s economy. Tedious. Northam says we just announced a $132 million surplus. Northam says we need a fairer, simpler, fiscally responsible, progressive tax system. Northam correctly says that Gillespie’s plan will threaten our AAA bond rating which we hold “sacred” in Virginia, while taking resources away from health care, education, transportation…would be irresponsible, put a huge hole in our budget. Northam says he’s for bipartisan, fiscally responsible, comprehensive tax reform. Gillespie says “Ralph’s plan is to have a plan…I’ve got a plan.” Perhaps, but it’s a really BAD plan. Gillespie says his plan is not like the Kansas plan, would not jeopardize the AAA bond rating, yada yada. And rainbows! unicorns! LOL
UPDATE 11:35 am: Now Gillespie’s bashing the Paris Accord, which in and of itself should be disqualifying. He also claims other states aren’t going to hold to the Paris Accord, which both shows a lack of understanding of how the Paris Accord works, and also of how many cities and states have pledged to hold to a rapid move to clean energy as the Paris Climate Accord calls for…
UPDATE 11:33 am: Gillespie asks Northam about Dominion’s proposed natural gas pipelines and about fracking, which is the source of the gas that will flow through the pipelines. Gillespie says he supports fracking. Northam says he disagrees on fracking, says most of the gas is “coming from Pennsylvania” (I thought it was coming from West Virginia, but need to double check on that…). Northam says the pipeline needs to be done with science, transparency, done responsibly. Northam says they can do what they want to do in Pennsylvania, but he opposes fracking in Virginia.
UPDATE 11:31 am: Gillespie says we can’t keep “hammering” businesses with “regulations.” Typical right-wing talking point. Gillespie bashes cap and trade, defends “right to work” (aka, “right to be poor”). Blech.
UPDATE 11:27 am: Question to Gillespie, do you support repeal of the ACA, repeal/replace or what? Also what about all the GOP governors who support Medicaid expansion? Gillespie repeats that he opposes Medicaid expansion, but gives no serious reason why. Gillespie says he has a specific plan to replace the ACA, the only problem being that it’s complete crap. Northam says he takes care of a lot of sick children, says it’s immoral for people not to be able to get health care. Northam says as part of the ACA, we can bring in over $5 million per day, allow up to 400,000 working Virginians to have coverage. From a business perspective, it’s crazy to give neighboring states $5 million per day.
UPDATE 11:22 am: Question about Obamacare supposedly not being sustainable. Northam says he’s not 100% behind the Affordable Care Act, that there are lots of good things about it (e.g., pre-existing conditions, emphasis on preventive care, mental health care, women’s reproductive care), but there are “things we can improve upon…it’s not brain surgery.” Northam points out, correctly, that the ACA is not the reason why health care spending is going up. Gillespie goes back to one of his favorite things, bashing the ACA, mostly with total or partial falsehoods and questionable anecdotes. Gillespie opposes expanding Medicaid, of course. Gillespie says it’s good to get more people off of Medicaid. Classic Republican response. Northam, who actually knows something about this subject (unlike Gillespie), explains what health care spending is driven by and the types of changes that need to be made (e.g., precision medicine, outcome based medicine).
UPDATE 11:21 am: Gillespie bashes “Obamacare,” which is very popular AND working, I’d point out. Claims that Northam’s answer to everything is to get the federal government involved, which is blatantly untrue. Who lies more, Trump or Gillespie? Tough call.
UPDATE 11:17 am: Woodruff press Gillespie on Trump — Russia, FBI, Mueller, etc. Gillespie says he doesn’t agree with everything Trump says or tweets, but he’ll work with Trump’s administration to help Virginia. That’s again called a dodge/deflection. Pathetic as always. Other than that, Gillespie blathers about his economic “plan” (those are air quotes). Gillespie refuses to answer a direct question about whether he’d support Trump if he fires Robert Mueller. So lame. Northam asks whether Gillespie supports the hundreds of thousands of Virginians who would lose healthcare under Trump’s plan. How about Muslim Americans? Immigrants? We need to “take care of all Virginians,” can’t just “pick and choose.” Northam to Gillespie: “You’ve really been missing in action on all of these issues.”
UPDATE 11:12 am: Question about President Trump, who’s in the state today in Norfolk. Is Trump fit for office? Should Congress consider impeachment? Northam says Trump is “a dangerous man,” “lacks empathy,” “has difficulty telling the truth.” “He lies like a rug.” Cites Trumpcare, pulling out of Paris Accords, his attacks on the LGBT community, women’s access to reproductive healthcare, etc. “My opponent has really stood there and said nothing” about Trumpcare. “His travel ban…I have a lot of Muslim friends…they’re living in fear…not the Virginia I know.” Gillespie responds by saying Trump’s hear to commission a ship in Norfolk, which is good for Virginia. That’s called a dodge/deflection from all the Trump outrages cited by Northam. Gillespie says we need governor who can work with President Trump. Gillespie mocks the “resistance,” even though it’s crucial to resist Trump’s outrages. Northam says “if the shoe fits, wear it,” and dares people to look up the definition of “narcissism,” which fits Trump VERY well. Northam says he’s all for building up the military. Calls on Trump to end sequestration. But also vows to stand up to Trump’s detrimental policies. With regard to impeachment, Northam says he has full faith in Senators Kaine and Warner.
UPDATE 11:08 am: Ralph Northam opening statement…”it is time to ignite Virginia with innovation.” Someone in the audience interrupts, shouting about Dominion and the proposed natural gas pipelines. Man removed, shouting all the way. Northam now reviewing his biography. Says he’s had a wonderful relationship with Gov. McAuliffe, building the new Virginia economy. Can we do better? Absolutely, and I have a plan to build rural Virginia. Access to world class education, healthcare…
UPDATE 11:06 am: “Enron Ed”‘s opening statement…talking down Virginia’s economy, which he loves to do, even though we actually have the lowest unemployment rate since 2008. Gillespie claims his policies would make things better, while Northam’s would make things worse, which of course is completely false.
UPDATE 11:04 am: Northam and Gillespie introduced, as is Judy Woodruff.
UPDATE 11:02 am: Rules and standard disclaimers from the VBA; debate being moderated by Judy Woodruff of the PBS NewsHour. Hahaha, reception after the debate “sponsored by Dominion Energy.” But of course! LOL