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Virginia Politics
Posted at 05:28 PM ET, 07/20/2011

Republican senate candidates criticize McDonnell over debt talk

A pair of conservative GOP state senate candidates criticized Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) Wednesday for saying that Republican members of Congress should “compromise” on federal debt talks in Washington.

“I understand the Governor’s job, but I disagree with his sentiment that there should be a compromise or retreat from solid, conservative principles,’’ said Tito Munoz— better known as “Tito the Builder” — who is running in the 36th Senate District against Jeffrey M. Frederick, former leader of the Republican Party of Virginia and Prince William delegate.

“I frankly feel that Gov. McDonnell’s willingness to bless a retreat that includes tax hikes and an increase in the debt ceiling is just plain wrong. Republicans share in the reckless spending that has gotten American to this point and now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get back to our basic principles,’’ said Claudia Tucker, who is running in the newly created 22nd district west of Richmond. “Talk is cheap and we need to see action. If Virginia’s finances are at stake, there can be no better solution than a righting of the fiscal ship in Washington with true fiscally conservative principles.

McDonnell said at a news conference Tuesday that he was “furious” that Moody’s may downgrade the state’s AAA bond rating after failed deficit talks in Washington and that both parties are to blame, though he laid more blame on the Democrats. On Wednesday, he said in an interview on MSNBC that Republicans should be willing to compromise, though he never said outright he would support a tax increase.

“Apparently not everyone has seen or heard the Governor’s actual comments,’’ McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said in response to the candidates’ criticism. “He made clear that if he was in Washington he would cut spending dramatically, like he has done in Richmond.”

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Munoz and Tucker, who are both trying to prove their conservative credentials as they engage in hard-fought Republican primaries, came out against McDonnell’s comments but in support of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has taken a firm line against tax increases in the debt talks.

“At a time when the economy is struggling, the worst thing we can do is raise taxes on people and job creators,” Munoz said. “Raising the debt ceiling is risky business in the first place, and doing so with coinciding tax increases is even worse.”

“Congressman Eric Cantor’s steadfastness to our shared conservative principles, insisting that there be no tax increases involved in any discussion with the White House and Democrats on a new spending deal, is exactly the right approach,’’ Tucker said. “Additionally, depending on future Congresses to adhere to spending cuts agreed to by previous bodies has little historic record of reliability.

McDonnell late Wednesday released a letter he sent to President Obama on the debt issue, urging immediate bipartisan action.

“I don’t presume to tell you the exact solution, except that prompt bipartisan action to keep America solvent is essential,” he wrote to Obama.

Democrats criticized McDonnell for failing to use his influence with Cantor and others in Washington.

“Bob McDonnell says he’s furious that Virginia’s bond rating is at risk ‘through no fault of our own,’ but he refuses to use his influence with Republicans in Congress like Eric Cantor for standing in the way of a debt ceiling deal,” said Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Democratic party.

Martin said McDonnell speaks regularly to congressional leaders, including Cantor, and is scheduled to talk to him Wednesday.

By  |  05:28 PM ET, 07/20/2011

 
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