The Washington Post
Local ⋅ Live Blog

Live: Virginia governor’s debate

September 25, 2013

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.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

That does it for our live updates from tonight’s Virginia gubernatorial debate in McLean. Head here to read our complete story about the debate and head here to read some early notes on the debate.

And here are some highlights you may have missed:

Opening remarks: Cuccinelli | McAuliffe

Closing statements: McAuliffe | Cuccinelli

Same sex marriage

Stronger gun laws

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

After the debate ended tonight, both candidates (or whomever is minding their Twitter accounts) again reached out:

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Here’s a transcript of tonight’s debate.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Ken Cuccinelli appeared before a scrum of reporters, microphones and cameras after his Democratic opponent left. He seemed to enjoy the chance to speak a little more at length, noting that in debates like tonight’s event candidates are “handcuffed by the clock.”

Cuccinelli, asked about why he is behind in the polls, said he is being outspent on television ads. ”For liberty-minded voters, I have a lot to offer,” he said.

Asked again about which tax loopholes he would close, Cuccinelli said the goal is to go through the “enormous list” of existing loopholes in order to figure out which gets closed. But he said the work would take a year, so it wouldn’t be something ready for the first legislative session. 

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Terry McAuliffe again framed himself as the reasonable candidate in the race.

He said he hoped to lead in ”a bipartisan, mainstream way,” a phrase he used two times during his appearance in front of reporters.

McAuliffe cited what he called the Mark Warner model of governance, mentioning an ad released last week that saw the former governor touting McAuliffe’s candidacy.

  • Laura Vozzella|and Fredrick Kunkle
  • ·

In a televised debate Wednesday, the both candidates for governor cast the other as unfit for office.

Read more

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Perhaps the most notable part of tonight’s debate was how both candidates opted not to reveal specifics when pressed. Questions about gay marriage, tax returns, paying for education plans and closing loopholes were met by both candidates with pivots and quick attacks on the other guy. Neither would even offer a firm stance one way or the other on the name of Washington’s NFL team, despite the fact that the state sends millions of dollars the team’s way.

They were more than happen to try and brand themselves in front of the audience watching at home, which could include voters who largely know the candidates from the negative ads on TV. McAuliffe repeatedly used the word “mainstream” in defining himself and his values, while Cuccinelli kept returning to his experience in elected government.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

The debate has wrapped up, with moderator Chuck Todd ending the event at 7:57 p.m. (as scheduled). We’ll be bringing you additional updates and remarks from both candidates, so stay tuned.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II participate in a debate moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd in McLean, Va., on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II participate in a debate moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd in McLean, Va., on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Ken Cuccinelli, in his closing remarks, invoked traditional values and said he would be the candidate to best represent the state’s voters.

“I’ll be a governor who fights for you. Terry will fight for Terry, because he always has,” Cuccinelli said.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

In his closing statement, Terry McAuliffe again put himself forward as the mainstream candidate. He cited, among other things, Cuccinelli’s history on women’s issues.

“I think Virginia women have had just about enough of Ken Cuccinelli’s experience,” he said.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

The candidates are about to offer their closing statements.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Moderator Chuck Todd asked the candidates if they think the team should change its name. Both candidates essentially said they would leave it up to the team.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Asked about his involvement with Star Scientific, Cuccinelli stressed that he disclosed his issues with the company publicly. When McAuliffe raised the issue of ethics, Cuccinelli responded by hitting back at his ethics by noting that he “rented out the Lincoln Bedroom,” among other things.

McAuliffe was also asked about why he hadn’t released more of his tax returns.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

McAuliffe, who has said he supports marriage equality, was asked why he wouldn’t use the office to push for legalizing gay marriage in the state.

He said that it’s a difficult issue, noting that if a bill legalizing same sex came to his desk he would sign it.

Cuccinelli was quick to respond by noting that it would actually be a constitutional amendment, rather than a bill coming to the governor’s desk.

But Cuccinelli did again say that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman. He said that the governor has to defend the state’s constitution, which currently prohibits gay marriage.

NBC's Chuck Todd moderates the debate between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II in McLean on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

NBC’s Chuck Todd moderates the debate between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II in McLean on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

The next topic up for discussion: a potential government shutdown.

Cuccinelli, responding first, said that he isn’t in favor of a government shutdown. He also said a potential shutdown isn’t what you want to see in a state like Virginia, adding that McAuliffe’s desire to see Medicaid expanded could potentially lead to a shutdown of the state’s government.

Moderator Chuck Todd asked McAuliffe if he thinks President Obama is showing leadership on the potential government shutdown issue, but McAuliffe sidestepped that and pivoted back to Virginia.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

The first commercial break contained a negative ad, of course. Out-of-state groups are funding a deluge of such ads during this election season. (There was also an ad for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who was not invited to participate in tonight’s debate.)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Terry McAuliffe was asked about whether he would support an assault weapons ban in the wake of the shooting at the Navy Yard, among other recent massacres. In short: no, he would not, but he does want stronger background checks.

“We want to know that our communities are safe,” he said. “That’s why I’m for responsible gun ownership. I’ve called for universal background checks.”

Saying he is a hunter who has gone through background checks, McAuliffe said he thinks background checks are a necessity.

Cuccinelli, in his response, said he supports the Second Amendment and says the answer to gun violence like Virginia Tech is better treatment of people with mental health issues.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II (not shown) participate in a debate moderated by NBC News' Chuck Todd in McLean, Va., on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II (not shown) participate in a debate moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd in McLean, Va., on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

Cuccinelli, in response to a question about his tax plans, stressed that the state needs to lower its taxes to make it a competitive economy. He again mentioned closing unspecified loopholes as a way to pay for reductions in the business and individual income taxes.

“We’ve put a process in place that will accomplish the financial goals we need to get the tax cuts,” Cuccinelli said.

Cuccinelli didn’t outline the loopholes he plans to close, but instead focused on the idea of matching the two sides of the budgetary ledger.

Moderator Chuck Todd pointed out that Cuccinelli still didn’t specify which loopholes, and asked him which ones he would close.

Cuccinelli said he would rank them to figure that out. Todd again asked which ones, but Cuccinelli didn’t say.

“I’m the only candidate with a plan to grow jobs other than to say jobs repeatedly,” he said.

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

McAuliffe was asked by The Post’s Ben Pershing how he plans to pay for higher teacher salaries. In response, McAuliffe didn’t directly answer, but did say that a big part of the state’s budget hinges on the Medicaid expansion and fixing inefficiencies in the state budget.

Cuccinelli responded with: “It’s hard to find inefficiencies in a government you don’t understand.”

He went on to say that governor is “not a good entry-level job,” highlighting his own history in government to talk about the experience he’d bring to the position.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II participate in a debate moderated by NBC News' Chuck Todd in McLean, Va., on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli II participate in a debate moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd in McLean, Va., on Wednesday. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

  • Mark Berman
  • ·

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.

Load More
No More Posts
Comments
Most Read
Comments
Comments
×