Economy Takes Center Stage at First Debate

By: Garrett Wymer Email
By: Garrett Wymer Email

HOT SPRINGS -- Transportation, health care, taxes - even sequestration - all major topics during Saturday's gubernatorial debate. But what it all pointed back to: Virginia's economy.

Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli said the commonwealth's economy is hurt by ObamaCare.

"Growing government as the way to grow jobs is not the way to advance the middle class," he said. "It's a great way to help the well-connected who helped design this law, but it isn't going to help job growth for our middle class."

On the other side of the stage, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe pointed to sequestration.

"I want everyone in this audience to understand the dramatic impact that will have on us," he said. "So the focus has to be 'How do you diversify the economy in all these new areas?"

Both men sparred over their plans to improve the economy if they take office.

"It's why I'm fighting for the middle class and not the well-connected, because they're the ones who need the relief," Cuccinelli said. "They need relief from federal impositions and they need some of their dollars freed up so they can re-invest and grow jobs right here in Virginia."

McAuliffe fired back by taking aim at Cuccinelli's proposed tax cut.

"I'd love to stand here today and promise everybody a $1.4 billion tax cut," McAuliffe said. "But it's fiscally irresponsible when you can't pay for it."

Current governor Bob McDonnell's transportation plan took center stage, bringing disagreements from both candidates.

McAuliffe supported it, saying it is key to a healthy economy.

"We cannot continue to move Virginia forward when we're at gridlock," he said.

Cuccinelli, on the other hand, opposed it, saying other options would have been better.

"The Metro rail extension was an inefficient expenditure of enormous amounts of money that could have bought a lot more transportation if it went in a different direction," he said.

Reaction after the debate was mixed - like always - as to who won and who lost.

Yesterday Larry Sabato tweeted that he gives the edge to McAuliffe because of the Star Scientifc headlines. But today, McAuliffe is the one making headlines. PolitiFact has given McAuliffe their "Pants on Fire" rating after something he said yesterday about the independent report clearing Cuccinelli.

McAuliffe said the report concluded that Cuccinelli should have been prosecuted if Virginia law was not so weak. Today, fact-checkers say that is not true. PolitiFact reports that nothing from the investigation even "remotely supports" McAuliffe's claim.

Fireworks already are going off in the campaign, with still more than three months until Election Day.


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