Terry McAuliffe (D) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) faced off Wednesday night in a debate that took place with less than six weeks until the election.
McAuliffe painted himself as the mainstream candidate, hammering Cuccinelli on conservative social stances that he said are too extreme for Virginians. And Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general, said McAuliffe, who has never held elective office, lacks the gravitas and experience to lead the state.
The debate, hosted by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and NBC4 Washington, came on the heels of a new Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll that showed McAuliffe with an edge over Cuccinelli.
Tonight’s debate in McLean comes with less than two months to go before election day in Virginia.
A new Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll this week found that Democrat Terry McAuliffe had taken a lead over Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, besting him in likely voters whether it’s a one-on-one race or if it includes Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis.
To read more about how voters feel about the candidates — as well as the state of the races for lieutenant governor and attorney general — head here.
Tonight’s debate between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli II is scheduled to get underway shortly. In case you missed it, the candidates for lieutenant governor squared off last night in Arlington. Read about it here.
The candidates taking part in tonight’s debate tweeted to their followers on Wednesday, reminding them to tune in:
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) September 25, 2013
— Ken Cuccinelli (@KenCuccinelli) September 25, 2013
The debate is underway in McLean. Chuck Todd of NBC News is introducing the event right now, outlining the rules and naming the panelists.
Terry McAuliffe, in his opening statement, put himself forth as the mainstream candidate in this election.
“We cannot afford the next four years in Richmond to be like the last four in Washington,” he said.
McAuliffe decried the gridlock in Washington and said that “mainstream solutions” are needed.
Ken Cuccinelli began his opening remarks by discussing his history of public service, touched on his background and quickly segued to what he hopes to do as governor.
“I have a plan that will create 58,000 new jobs here in Virginia,” he said.
Cuccinelli said he has “proposed detail policy ideas” for how he will create jobs in the state.
Terry McAuliffe is putting himself forth as the candidate with business experience, saying that Cuccinelli’s focus is on social issues.
“With sequestration, with the budget cuts that we have seen…the next governor’s real challenge is how do you grow and diversify our businesses?” he said.
Ken Cuccinelli, responding to McAuliffe’s stance that he’s the candidate to help grow Virginia’s economy, obviously disagrees with that take. And he says his endorsements back that up.
“I’m the only candidate who’s gotten both of the major business endorsements so far in this race,” Cuccinelli said.
It took 12 minutes for Star Scientific to earn its first mention tonight. McAuliffe turned the discussion to Star Scientific early and outlined some of that issue before moderator Chuck Todd shifted the discussion away, noting that they would return to it later.
“Ironically, I met Mr. Williams through the governor.” #VAGovDebate
— Karen Tumulty (@ktumulty) September 25, 2013
Chuck Todd asked Cuccinelli about social issues, some of which have become part of the attorney general’s national profile.
“I have some basic beliefs that are fundamental to me,” Cuccinelli said. But he said the majority of his time as attorney general was not spent on these social issues.
In his response, McAuliffe points out that Cuccinelli was one of three attorneys general who did not sign a letter to Congress in favor of reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.