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Virginia Elections 2013: McAuliffe, Cuccinelli Attack In First Debate

Virginia's candidates for governor focus on social issues, transportation, economy, gay rights Saturday in the first debate of the 2013 election season.

Ken Cuccinelli (left) and Terry McAuliffe debate in Hot Springs, Va., Saturday with moderator Judy Woodruff.
Ken Cuccinelli (left) and Terry McAuliffe debate in Hot Springs, Va., Saturday with moderator Judy Woodruff.

A week of attacks in the Virginia governor’s race culminated in an aggressive, feisty first debate Saturday between Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Neither candidate pulled any punches during the 90-minute debate, which turned heated on more than one occasion and is being watched nationwide -- and funded in no small part by donors across the country, too.

McAuliffe painted Cuccinelli as a candidate more focused on promoting extreme ideas on abortion and gay rights than building the Commonwealth’s economy and creating jobs. Cuccinelli, in turn, warned Virginians that McAuliffe had no experience in state office and would say anything to get elected.

The debate, which was hosted by the Virginia Bar Association at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va., covered most of the major issues in the election – plans for the economy, transportation, women’s health, gay marriage and more.

McAuliffe, a businessman and former chair of the Democratic National Committee, criticized Cuccinelli for his opposition to the Silver Line Metrorail and to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s historic transportation bill.

Both the Metro and the transportation package, projects McAuliffe has said he has always supported, will reduce gridlock in the Commonwealth, making the state a more attractive option for businesses, he said.

Cuccinelli said McAuliffe was simply taking credit for the General Assembly’s hard work.

“Terry McAuliffe had nothing to do with the success of the transportation deal,” Cuccinelli said.

McAuliffe’s business dealings with his car company, GreenTech Automotive, were also prime targets for Cuccinelli.

The Attorney General bashed McAuliffe for choosing to locate a manufacturing plant in Mississippi instead of Martinsville, Va.

“You picked Mississippi, so run for governor in Mississippi,” Cuccinelli said to some laughter from the audience.

McAuliffe countered businesses have to make tough decisions, and this was one of them.

“You can’t chase every deal,” he said. “It’s not easy starting a car company.”

But with a 42-year business background, McAuliffe said he was the right choice to boost Virginia’s economy and bring it into the future.

McAuliffe then hit Cuccinelli with a name that’s been a mainstay in the news and clouding the Virginia governor’s race – Jonnie Williams, CEO of nutritional supplement company Star Scientific and a key player in the investigation into the current governor’s ethics.

Williams, whose company is embroiled in a lawsuit with the Commonwealth and who gave thousands of dollars in gifts to McDonnell and his family, also gave gifts to Cuccinelli.

“Instead of taking him to court, he was taking you to New York City,” McAuliffe said to his opponent. “He was buying you $1,500 turkey dinners. That’s a lot of turkey.”

Cuccinelli did not address the gifts McAuliffe mentioned but did say he had never given Williams any special treatment and had acted professionally.

Both candidates carefully weighed in when asked if they thought McDonnell should resign over the scandal.

“It’s appropriate to ask him to think about it,” Cuccinelli said.

McAuliffe said no decisions should be made until all of the facts are on the table.

“Let’s let the investigation go,” McAuliffe said. “Let’s not prejudge.”

Cuccinelli was also careful when given questions about his well-known opposition to homosexuality, which he once called “against nature.”

He didn’t say specifically whether he would sign abortion or marriage equality legislation, but did say he wanted to “respect life” and “protect marriage.”

Cuccinelli said his administration would not focus on passing social laws, and instead would fight to better Virginia’s economy.

"I do not expect to use the political capital of the governor's office to be moving those pieces of legislation," he said.

But, when pressed by moderator Judy Woodruff, Cuccinelli said, “My personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven’t changed.”

See also:

Laurie Dodd July 21, 2013 at 09:13 AM
Cuccinelli has turned the AG's office into an extremist sideshow, launching failed challenges against a UVa professor and federal health care laws. His AG office advised energy corporations that were in litigation over extracting natural gas from the private property of Virginia landowners. He has failed to properly report gifts he received while holding state office. If this is his record in state office, he has shown himself unsuitable to serve as governor.
John Lovaas July 21, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Let's get on with focussing on making a better life for all Virginians. Terry McAuliffe is the man who can do it, the man who has proven he can get things done and that he cares about people. Cuccinelli, on the other hand, is a right-wing zealot who has proven so in his use of the Attorney General position to pursue an extremist social agenda and attack climate scientists with whom he personally disagrees. In his spare time as AG, he has worked to thwart basic health care for women and the poor while taking luxury gifts from interests likely in conflict with his position of trust. Time for some serious government in Richmond. It's time for Terry McAuliffe!
TheRepublican July 21, 2013 at 04:01 PM
There's a shock! The socialist brigade from Reston is attacking the Cucc. I love the comment "Let's get on with focussing on making a better life for all Virginians." Hey Fella, I hate to tell you this but that's what the Republicans ARE doing. You people don't know how to run your lives. The Republicans represent the job creators. The job creators are worth more than others because they make a lot of money. Beccause they make a lot of money, jobs trickle down all over us via trickle down economics, and thus jobs are created. Because the job creators can create jobs, they represent the people. Thus politicians need not listen to people in mass, but let the job creators, those superior to you, to do the thinking for you. THerefore, it likewise makes sense to allow other people that are superior to others to be dictating how the lives of others should be led. Those that side with the job creators, like Pat Robertson, thus are allowed to set the moral agenda that the rest of you need to live by. It is then the job of the government to impose this on you because you're basically inferior and job creators and their allies need to be doing things for you. This is the way Democracy works people...get with the programs!
Guy Linn July 22, 2013 at 10:28 AM
Republican your comments are BOOOOGUS. Pat Robertson, critical thinker, are you nuts!! If you think making rich people richer is going to help the poor, I have a bridge to sell you.
Larry Stine July 23, 2013 at 10:16 AM
Of course, comments by TheRepublican are crazy. That is because he/she is a Democrat ringer. That is why the name "The Republican" is used. This person posts on every political patch item and always illogically rants.
TheRepublican July 23, 2013 at 02:58 PM
There's nothing illogical about anything I say. On contrare everything I say is the truth and it's right. If you notice, most of my posts have a "recommeneed" badge by them. That tells you I speak for the people and the people agree with me. This is clearly a good sign that Cucc will wallop the socialist. Just because people like me and other Tea Partiers are not willing to play along with the tired old RINO politics of Rove doesn't mean you can come here, ridicule us, call us imposters, and try to trick the American people with nonsense. The fact that I get recommendations is proof people are on my side and against you. You and your tired old RINO friends will all be primaried and we'll take over the party, whether you like it or not!!
Larry Stine July 23, 2013 at 03:17 PM
To TheRepublican? You never "say" anything. You just demonize which is revealing. You can't defend or even explain Tea party positions. You hide behind an anonymous name. Admit it. You are a Democrat ringer.
The Analyst July 24, 2013 at 07:12 AM
"TheRepublican" is a walking, talking, web posting, and media fed creation of the Republican party. He sounds just like Sarah Palin, Louie Gohmert, Cuccinelli, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Bachman, and Glenn Beck, to name but a few of his "heroes." I love it. It's absolutely hysterical. Here we have a living, breathing creation of their own propaganda and paranoia schemes. Yes, threats are EVERYWHERE, and where do the other Republicans, excuse me, RINOs stand on it? They won't even acknowledge their own creation. It would be wise of you, Mr. Stine (if that's your real name) to study the Whigs. They subdivided into two political spectrums. One was spoon fed on conspiracy theories and became known as the "Know Nothings," not because they were ignorant, although that's the class they attracted, but because there were so many conspiracy theories dominating their movement that they told their followers to claim they "know nothing" about politics and had no opinions on what was going on. Sound familiar? We live regionally in an area controlled by a Democratic party "supervisor" named Cathy Hudgins. There is not a billionaire developer special interests she won't bend over backwards to please, even to the extent of insulting residents in the press and in person. As pathetic as that is, she's unfortunately better than anything the Republicans have to offer. Whereas Ms. Hudgins corruption is localized, the Republican's party corruption via dedication to special interests is nationwide. How dare any of the people living in a democracy dare think their opinions matter!! It's time for change to come, and change will only come when the Republicans are replaced by a viable party, and with luck, this will occur within the next 5 years. A party with ideas instead of some more of the "by the special interests and for the special interests at everyone else's expense" attitude that Ms. Hudgins so thoroughly exemplifies. To put it in the lingo of "The Republican", I offer the following: "Thus, the Republican Party is dead meat on a hook."
Laurie Dodd July 24, 2013 at 10:15 AM
Does anyone read those LONG comments? I doubt it.
Larry Stine July 24, 2013 at 11:19 AM
My name is my real name. I don't hide behind a pseudonym. Your rantings and demonizations are as bad as TheRepublican who is indeed an Democrat Internet troll . Special interests which dominate the Democrat party are government and teacher unions, gays, Hollywood, and Wall Street. All of them are receiving special considerations; e.g. Obamacare exemptions and weak enforcement of regs. However, now even the unions are backing away from Obamacare.
RKO July 25, 2013 at 06:27 AM
As a secondary comment, it would surely be nice if the format of an argument was actually formatted properly instead of run together without any type of formatting at all. I guess even this is too complicated for us now.
TheRepublican July 29, 2013 at 07:25 AM
FWIW, Mr. Stine, Sarah Paline gave a stellar performance on Fox News. The only news that's not part of the lame stream media. And what did she say? She said all the elitist Republicans forced her to shut up. She wanted to talke about Rev. Right and the terrorist Obama used to pal around with all the time. That's right, RINOs like you made her shut up. Just like youd like to shut me up. But that's not going to happen. We will primary you and your elitist lame stream media bowing down an WE will control the party. You'd better not interfere again!! Now for some logic about the Carl Rove loving RINOs. They made Paline shut up because she wanted to speak the facts about Obama paling around with terrorists all the time and they wanted her to shut up about Rev. Right. Thus we can conclude that the RINOs are actually not only socialists, but probably in cahoots with terrorists as well. And I havne't even touched on the topic of Obama not even being an American.

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