MANASSAS, Va., -- The two candidates vying for Virginia governor lobbed insults at each other at a Friday candidate forum even though they were never on stage at the same time.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli called his opponent, Democratic fundraiser Terry McAuliffe, an "unindicted co-conspirator" in old campaign finance scandals, and said he would be too aligned with labor unions to serve the state well.
The election is "between Union Terry and Frugal Ken," Cuccinelli said. He also pointed out that a company McAuliffe launched did business in China and is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
McAuliffe fired back that Cuccinelli is a conservative ideologue who would scare businesses away from the state.
McAuliffe said the election is "a choice between rigid ideology and mainstream compromise." McAuliffe said Cucinelli's stances on social issues like abortion are outside the mainstream and noted he pursued a legal case against a University of Virginia scientist over climate change research. McAuliffe said the case showed Cuccineli is the wrong man to lure science and technology jobs and educators to Virginia.
The debate, sponsored by WUSA TV and several major local chambers of commerce, was focused on economic issues which showed a clear substantive divide between the candidates. McAuliffe endorsed the state adopting expanded Medicaid enrollments, as envisioned in the Affordable Care Act, noting that the federal government will pay 100% of the extra costs for three years and then 90% each year afterward.
But Cuccinelli said he believes Medicaid should be reformed to cut costs before the state expands the rolls, because he doesn't believe that the federal government will come through with its promised payments.
The forum also offered a raucous discussion of a controversial Northern Virginia highway expansion that is a hot topic in this DC suburb. McAuliffe dodged the question repeatedly, saying he did not have enough information to take sides; Cuccinelli said he supported the idea of building the road but did not agree with the current plan for construction.
After the debate, Cuccinelli told reporters "Every campaign you have a positive case and a negative case" - the positive spelling out who you should vote for and the negative spelling out why voters should reject the opponent. "Yeah, I hit him hard when I hit him," Cuccinelli said, "but I spent most of today talking about education and transportation."