Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe Round 1: The Blow by Blow of The First Virginia Debate

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Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wasted no time at their first formal Virginia gubernatorial debate Saturday morning. Cuccinelli said the state must choose between “Union Terry or Frugal Ken.” McAuliffe said the choice was between “rigid ideology and mainstream compromise.”

Cuccinelli repeated the false claim that McAuliffe opposes Virginia’s right to work law, and defended his proposed $1.4 billion tax cut. McAuliffe argued that Cuccinelli’s social views could hurt Virginia economically, and said Cuccinelli opposed Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s huge transportation bill, which the governor touted as “historic bi-partisan legislation,” for “ideological reasons.”

McAuliffe brought up a letter Cuccinelli sent in March 2010 to the state’s public colleges and universities asking them to remove references to sexual orientation from campus nondiscrimination policies. The letter reportedly jeopardized McDonell’s efforts to lure defense giant Northrup Grumman from Los Angeles to Fairfax. McDonnell eventually assuaged the company’s concerns. “We have to be open and welcoming,” said McAuliffe. “The attacks on women, the attacks on gays, the attacks on children who have come here from immigrant parents…We’ve got to stop it.”

The best attacks Cuccinelli delivered were on McAuliffe’s business record, which includes his time at GreenTech, an electric car company that chose to open a manufacturing plant in Mississippi instead of Martinsville, Virginia. “The only candidate who has chased business out of Virginia is you. It’s Terry. Not me,” said Cuccinelli. “You picked Mississippi. So run for governor in Mississippi.”

McAuliffe responded he had a “fiduciary duty” to shareholders. “A fiduciary duty frankly, that you forgot, Ken, as Attorney General when you were taking all of these gifts from Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific,” said McAuliffe.

But Cuccinelli spent a good amount of time defending himself on social issues. On abortion, Cuccinelli said, “I do not expect to use the political capital of the governor’s office to be moving those [pro-life] pieces of legislation. My focus is on job creation and job growth.” A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday shows that McAuliffe’s 43 to 39 percent lead is largely due to support among female voters. On homosexuality, Cuccinelli said, “My personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven’t changed.” McAuliffe favors marriage equality.

McAuliffe’s social-problems-are-economic-problems attack led to the most awkward moment of the debate. Around 20 minutes after moderator Judy Woodruff announced the candidates, McAuliffe recounted the last time the candidates were together, at the Northern Virginia Technology council. “We both spoke,” said McAuliffe. “And he [Cuccinelli] said to this leading group of business leaders, I haven’t been extreme on social issues. And you know what happened? They laughed at him.”

Eight seconds passed before Woodruff asked Cuccinelli if he wanted to respond. “Yeah, four people in the front thought that was all real funny,” said Cuccinelli.

“I don’t think this is funny. I think it’s serious.” interrupted McAuliffe. After briefly arguing that McAuliffe would move welfare spending to fund education spending, Cuccinelli said, “This is more of Terry McAuliffe saying whatever he thinks he has to say to get elected.”

McAuliffe did not mention “Giftgate,” a scandal over gifts that has touched both Governor Bob McDonnell and Cuccinelli, until nearly an hour into the 90-minute debate. Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a nutritional supplement company called Star Scientific, gave $145,000 in gifts to McDonnell, his wife and sister. He also gave $18,000 in gifts to Cuccinelli, though a top Virginia prosecutor concluded that the attorney general didn’t break the law.

“Instead of taking him to court, he was taking you to New York City,” said McAuliffe. “He was buying you $1,500 turkey dinners. You know, that’s a lot of turkey,” McAuliffe said to scattered laughter. Cuccinelli, noting that Star Scientific sued Virginia over a tax dispute, said, “The only thing Jonnie Williams got out of the Attorney General’s office is opposition.” Recent polling suggests that a large majority of voters don’t care much about the controversy. McAuliffe didn’t mention Star Scientific in his closing remarks, and neither candidate asked McDonnell to step down.

Cuccinelli said immigration reform would be “very important for America” and “nice to get this off the table so we can move onto other issues.” He did not take a position on the pathway to citizenship. McAuliffe reiterated that he was for a pathway to citizenship and the DREAM Act.

A small proportion of Virginia’s eight million citizens heard what either candidate said. According to the USTREAM counter, only around 2,500 people watched the debate at any one time, and it was not shown live on TV despite having PBS co-sponsor the event with the Virginia Bar Association. The debate was held at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Virginia.

9 comments
VirginiaLaw
VirginiaLaw

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” 

― Robert F. Kennedy 

Virginia rated 47th & 49th in corruption - the VSB who hosted this debate at one of the most expensive venues in Virginia - Is one of the most corrupt groups in Virginia - It is funded off the lawyers dues and interest on their Trust Accounts - or as past president Ben DiMuro has done you can leave them 10% of your estate - In return if you use Ben DiMuro as your attorney as Ilona Ely Freedman Grenadier Heckman of Old Town Alexandria has done. You won't need to follow the Laws or the Rules of the Law. Ilona has been allowed to be involved in Perjury, Obstruction of Justice, Fraud on the Court, Involvement of Forgery, Theft of money from the Sonia Grenadier Trust account through her law office for great personal gain over $10 Million in Real Estate, Theft of Herman Grenadier, malpractice, Bribery, Abuse of her Oath of Office, Conspiracy, Collusion, Miscarriage of Justice, preventing Due Process, conflict of interest – related to the practice of law, violating code of ethics, has liability to her victims, has violated Plaintiffs Religious, US Constitutional Rights, Va Rights etc - But, she is a part of the Old Boys Network - which in Virginia lives by a different set of Rules - You can read more about it at www.valaw2010.blogspot.com - So the way attorneys like BWW-Law f/k/a Bierman, Geesling, Ward & Wood keep there license's is how much they pay the VSB - in return forgery, perjury et al are ignored 

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

McAuliffe neds to ask Cuccinelli how many bedrooms does he think one state inspector can check in one evening so they can figure out how big the new Cuccinelli sex police force will have to be to enforce the law that Cuccinelli wants, and BTW, how does he intend to pay that big bill?   Doesn't this sound like the clerics in Iran or Saudi Arabia?

Hermione
Hermione

WE need political leaders that will keep their hands out of our wallets, and keep their noses out of our bedrooms.

PaulRandall
PaulRandall

VA will be ill served by both of these clowns.

muddsyone
muddsyone

Socialistic policies are destroying this country. How many times will people be duped before they wake up. McAuliffe is a tax and spend liberal. He will lie through his teeth to get elected just like the current administration. The Democratic/ Socialist  agenda has never and will NEVER work!  Sooner or later the freebees will be gone and the poor will be hurt the most.

ARTRaveler
ARTRaveler

Fundamentalist religious policies are destroying America.  They forget all of that New Testament "take care of the poor"  stuff and concentrate on the smiting of the Old Testament.  You would expect to find a Jewish temple on every street corner across the south, rather than SBC or CoC churches.  The South could use a lot less "hating on" and a whole lot more "love and respect".

MrObvious
MrObvious

@muddsyone 

I suggest you learn what socialism is before you bleat nonsense. It's not a very good argument if it makes you look ignorant.

jimmyjimmyjimmy111
jimmyjimmyjimmy111

@muddsyone 


I agree muddsyone. Damn socialists. Especially that George W. Bush who gave trillions in dollars to Wall Street.