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Live: Virginia governor’s debate

Terry McAuliffe (D) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) squared off Thursday night in the final televised debate of the Virginia gubernatorial campaign. With less than two weeks until voters go to the polls, the debate gave the candidates a high-profile opportunity to reach voters. Follow our live updates here.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, left, speaks during a debate with Republican challenger Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, right, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, left, speaks during a debate with Republican challenger Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, right, at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., on Thursday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

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Inside the press filing room

Ben Pershing shared this look inside the press filing room at tonight’s debate:

Mark Berman
October 24, 6:32 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 6:32 pm
Ben Pershing

.@TheDailyShow is here at Va. Tech interviewing reporters before the final #vagov debate. Solid, analytical questions.

Via Twitter
October 24, 6:33 pm

Cuccinelli focuses on base

With the governor’s race entering the final two-week stretch, Kevin Cuccinelli II is focusing his attention — and money — on his base:

Rather than aiming for the moderates who have transformed the political landscape in recent elections, Cuccinelli is increasingly focused on shoring up his conservative base at a time when all recent polls show him lagging behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general, has dialed back his ad spending in liberal-leaning Northern Virginia in comparison with other regions of the state. And after months of seeming to avoid talking about some of his more conservative positions, he has returned to fiery rhetoric in recent appearances.

Head here for more.

Mark Berman
October 24, 6:37 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 6:37 pm

Financial boost for Sarvis

Libertarian Robert Sarvis won’t be able to participate in tonight’s debate because he didn’t meet the polling threshold. But he is getting a financial boost going into the final weeks of the race.

Purple PAC — a group devoted to backing candidates who are “‘red’ when it comes to economic policy, ‘blue’ when it comes to social policy” — launched a six-figure television ad buy Thursday designed to boost Sarvis’s campaign by painting him as a more appealing choice than Cuccinelli (R) or McAuliffe (D). The ad push begins the same day Cuccinelli and McAuliffe will square off in the final debate of the race, a session Sarvis will miss because he did not meet the polling threshold set by the other candidates and the debate’s sponsor.

Make sure you take note of this tidbit in that story, which could impact multiple races over the next several years:

If Sarvis gets 10 percent or more of the vote in the governor’s race, then Libertarian candidates would gain ballot access for state and local offices — but not federal races — through 2021, according to the State Board of Elections.

You can learn more about Sarvis here.

Mark Berman
October 24, 6:40 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 6:40 pm

How to "second screen" the debate

Looking for other resources to keep tabs on while you’re watching tonight’s debate? Obviously this liveblog is one such spot, and you should keep this blog open throughout the debate and after for analysis, highlights and other goodies.

In addition, here are some Twitter accounts to watch tonight.

Politicians:

Media:

Mark Berman
October 24, 7:01 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 7:01 pm

And we're off

The debate in Blacksburg is underway.

Mark Berman
October 24, 7:01 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 7:01 pm

McAuliffe opening remarks

Terry McAuliffe, in his opening remarks at tonight’s debate, says the debate comes down to one question: “Who will work with both parties to focus on jobs and education?

Citing his support from Republicans and Democrats alike, McAuliffe said he would assemble a responsible coalition to lead the state.

But McAuliffe quickly turned his attention to his opponent, decrying Cuccinelli’s campaign tactics and history.

“As this campaign has gone on, my opponent has become increasingly desperate,” he said.

Mark Berman
October 24, 7:03 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 7:03 pm

Cuccinelli opening remarks

In his opening remarks, which followed McAuliffe’s opening onslaught, Ken Cuccinelli II immediately went on the attack against his opponent.

“Some people run to do something, and some people run to be something,” Cuccinelli said.

Cuccinelli quickly invoked his opposition to the health-care overhaul, tying McAuliffe to the expansion and the well-publicized faulty rollout of Healthcare.gov.

Mark Berman
October 24, 7:05 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 7:05 pm

Financing their plans

An initial question about paying for their plans resulted in a quick back-and-forth between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe over their plans — and how they are framing one another’s plans.

“His plan is a fiscal disaster for the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said of his opponent.

Cuccinelli, in his response, linked McAuliffe to government overspending.

“I’ve explained how I’d pay for my proposals,” he said.

His campaign was quick to post a related tweet:

Mark Berman
October 24, 7:09 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 7:09 pm

Reforming standardized tests

The next question focused on standardized testing.  Cuccinelli spoke of reforming, not eliminating, the state’s Standards of Learning exams. McAuliffe followed by citing problems with the standardized exams, similarly talked about the importance of education while saying testing could be improved.

Mark Berman
October 24, 7:14 pm
  • Mark Berman October 24, 7:14 pm
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