Liveblog: Virginia gubernatorial candidates in Manassas for ‘Battleground Forum’

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) and businessman Terry McAuliffe (D) made the case for why they should be Virginia’s next governor to Northern Virginia community and business leaders this morning. The candidates appeared at an event dubbed the “Battleground Forum,” sponsored by the chambers of commerce from Prince William, Loudoun, Fredericksburg and Reston.

The two men were not debating, but instead took turns answering questions on economic policy during the two-hour forum, which started at 10 a.m. at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas. With less than four months to go until Election Day, neither candidate appears to be letting up on attacks on his opponent — which threaten to overshadow their actual platforms.

– Related story: Virginia gubernatorial hopefuls to attend forum in Manassas

And it’s over

Cucinnelli ends by saying that “Washington’s war on coal is a war on our poor.”

He also says that he is better suited to spend more wisely and efficiently on transportation projects, saying that “frugal Ken” would do better than “union Terry.”

And with that, it’s over. We’ll have a write-up soon on washingtonpost.com and of course an account in tomorrow’s Washington Post.

Cuccinelli calls again for more debates

Cuccinelli used his closing statement to reiterate his demand for more debates with McAuliffe.

“I would’ve preferred a debate, but my opponent has been turning down debates,” Cuccinelli said. “Unless Terry changes course, we will have only two debates in this race.”

STEM fields are key to education, workforce development, Cuccinelli says

Ken Cuccinelli told the audience he is committed to more focus on steering Virginia students into science, math and health care — which he said relates directly to workforce and economic development.

He said if elected, he would particularly try to recruit more girls and young women to close the gender gap in these fields. Still, Cuccinelli said he doesn’t want a mandate to local school boards on how they should achieve this goal.

Cuccinelli: federal health care law a “rolling jalopy”

Cuccinelli doesn’t see the federal government’s pledge to fund Medicaid expansion 100 percent for the first three years as a guarantee, and expressed skepticism about Washington’s ability to deliver in Virginia and other states.

“Are we wiling to hitch our trailer to that pickup truck?” he asked, and was cheered when he referred to the federal health care law as a “rolling jalopy.”

Cuccinelli said reforms are needed ahead of Medicaid expansion

Asked his thoughts on Medicaid expansion, Cuccinelli said that as things stand today, he does not support Medicaid expansion, and thinks reforms are needed ahead of expansion.

“Once we’re in, we’re stuck,” Cuccinelli said. “We cannot get out without federal permission.”

 

Cuccinelli not naming which tax credits he’d abolish

Cuccinelli is asked to be name which tax credits he would eliminate as governor, a question he has gotten before on the campaign trail. Again, he declined to give specifics.

“The minute I pick one, I’ll have to pick 100,” he said. “I haven’t done analysis of which ones don’t perform best for Virginia’s economy.”

 

Cuccinelli wants to “make Virginia foolish to leave”

Cuccinelli was asked about how to counter sequestration and other federal cuts affecting Virginians working for or with the federal government.

Cuccinelli said his goal for those business owners and their employees is “to make Virginia foolish to leave.”

“That leaves the private sector in control of deciding what’s best, not the governor or government,” he said.

Cuccinelli takes the stage

In his opening statement, Ken Cuccinelli said he’s the only candidate in the race with a lifetime of putting Virginians first and who won’t need on-the-job training as the next governor.

Cuccinelli said McAuliffe has helped “chase business out of Virginia” and brought up the investigations into his electric car company, GreenTech.

“I’ve been transparent,” Cuccinelli told the audience. “Terry hasn’t. You may not always agree with me, but you’ll know where I stand.”

McAuliffe wraps up, Cuccinelli next

In closing, McAuliffe told the crowd, “I trust women to make their own decisions about their own personal health care needs,” a statement met with cheers.

He warned the audience about what he called Cuccinelli’s “new focus” on the economy, but that if elected, he would focus on a divisive, ideological agenda.

As he walked off stage, he thanked McGinty, the moderator, then turned to the audience and said: “Let’s get him to move here.”

“Fix that traffic,” McGinty shot back.

 

McAuliffe on Medicaid expansion

McAuliffe said he’s “all for” Medicaid expansion, but that reforms to the total health system are needed. He said the billions in revenue expected from expansion can be used to make those improvements.

“Why would we want to leave our money on the table?” he asked.

McAuliffe mixes it up with moderator

McAuliffe was asked by moderator Derek McGinty of WUSA, “Don’t you owe it to the voters to take a position on the Bi-County parkway?” which was met with some applause by the crowd.

McAuliffe declined to comply, saying, “These studies aren’t done. No offense, that’s cute to say, but I do not make decisions, nor will I make decisions until I have all the facts in front of me.”

“I just want you to make a decision,” McGinty said to more applause.

Finally, McAuliffe then shot back, “Do you live in Virginia?”

After saying that he doesn’t, McAuliffe encouraged McGinty to relocate to the commonwealth.

“I’ll move there when I know about the Bi-County Parkway,” McGinty responded.

McAuliffe asked about economy

McAuliffe was asked what steps he would take to diversify Virginia’s economy and preserve jobs in the face on sequestration cuts in a state heavily tied to federal spending and contracting.

McAuliffe said Virginia should be leading on cybersecurity and nanoscience, and that research should be taken out of universities and commercialized.

McAuliffe takes questions

Todd House asks the first question: What are the top three measures to encourage new science and technology companies to relocate to NoVa and retain the companies we already have?

McAuliffe says he would create economic incentives; focus on learning standards for children and strengthening community colleges; and improve transportation.

 

Forum underway in Manassas

Candidates Terry McAuliffe (D) takes the stage first. The moderator reminds the audience that questions will focus on business, as Friday’s event is hosted by several Northern Virginia chambers of commerce.

McAuliffe tells the crowd the big test for the next governor is how to grow the economy. He says part of the answer is a modern transportation system. He touted his role in brokering a bipartisan transportation funding compromise in the General Assembly, and said Cuccinelli led the “tea party opposition” to transportation.

Late start in Manassas

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We’re off to a late start in Manassas. The crowd is eager to hear from the candidates. In case you missed it, here’s our preview story on today’s forum.

 

 

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Amrita Jayakumar · August 7, 2013