In Virginia’s first gubernatorial debate on Saturday, Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli framed Democrat Terry McAuliffe as an inexperienced influence peddler who always puts himself first.
Cuccinelli said Virginians have a right to “demand some commitment to Virginia prior to running for governor.” He said that “there is only one person who will show up on day one not needing a little tour around the state government.”
“I won’t need on-the-job training,” Cuccinelli said. “I will focus on putting the middle class and job creation first.”
Cuccinelli then hammered McAuliffe as a “dealmaker” who will put himself over Virginians. As proof, Cuccinelli cited McAuliffe’s Greentech electric car company. In 2009, McAuliffe chose to open a Greentech plant in Mississippi instead of Martinsville, Virginia, an area that was in desperate need of jobs. He said on Saturday he did so because he had a “fiduciary duty” to his investors rather than the people of Virginia.
“The only person who’s abandoned, driven business out of Virginia is you, Terry,” Cuccinelli said. “You put Terry first. It’s a very common theme for you.”
Cuccinelli said McAuliffe will say “whatever he thinks he has to say to get elected” and only had experience in “influence peddling” and “dealmaking” instead of growing jobs. He claimed McAuliffe would reward his political allies and make deals with his cronies, especially union bosses, should he be elected governor.
Virginia’s attorney general said that voters have always known where he stood on issues, unlike with McAuliffe, even if they did not necessarily agree with him. In fact, that may be one of his strongest selling points in a low-turnout gubernatorial election this fall.
Cuccinelli campaign manager David Rexrode said that McAuliffe’s shaky debate performance proved why he had been so hesitant to debate Cuccinelli.
“Ken dominated the debate from start to finish because unlike Terry McAuliffe, he has a record of leadership and service in Virginia and a command of the issues that are most important to Virginia job creators, workers and families,” Rexrode said. “McAuliffe had an opportunity to explain why his business record is filled with more broken promises than jobs created, why he turned his back on the people of Southside Virginia, and why he refuses to be straight with voters and release his tax returns.”
“Each one of those opportunities passed Terry McAuliffe by today,” he declared.
Rexrode said that the more Virginians see Cuccinelli “in forums like today’s debate, the more they will come to realize that in terms of experience, leadership, policy expertise and vision, the choice couldn’t be clearer in this election.”
“What you saw today from Ken was a candidate who has spent his entire life putting Virginians first, and it showed,” he said.