Va. Democrats' Digs Deepen as Forums Continue

By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DANVILLE, Va., April 28 -- The three Democrats running for governor spent their third debate Tuesday night lodging their most personal attacks to date on each other's records and business connections.

Brian Moran immediately questioned the millions of dollars rival Terry McAuliffe made in his investment in failed telecommunications giant Global Crossing.

"With so many corporate disasters -- from Enron to AIG to Global Crossing -- it is time to turn the page from corporate greed to investing in people,'' Moran said.

McAuliffe defended his role in the company that went bankrupt in 2002, leaving 10,000 employees out of work, saying he was never an employee or board member.

The Democrats -- R. Creigh Deeds, McAuliffe and Moran -- used the debate to try to alter the dynamics of the race, with polls showing that many are still undecided six weeks before the June 9 primary.

The two-hour debate was held in a largely empty room at the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville.

McAuliffe accused Moran of voting for a series of measures in the House of Delegates involving coal, oil drilling and payday lending, and then later saying he opposes them.

"People are frustrated when politicians have records that don't match their rhetoric,'' McAuliffe said. "Do you think people have a right to be confused?"

Moran said he opposed the measures despite intense pressure. "I have taken on those corporate interests time and time again,'' he said.

Deeds questioned how McAuliffe could support the North American Free Trade Agreement when it has led to thousands of lost jobs in Virginia, particularly in economically distressed Southside.

"How can you have any credibility on economic development and job creation?" Deeds asked. "How can you look hardworking Virginians . . . in the eye?"

McAuliffe said that he supported the concept of NAFTA but that the trade agreement was implemented badly.

The candidates for the nomination have agreed to participate in a record five debates. They will appear together Wednesday in Blacksburg.

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