The Five Best One-Liners From Last Night’s Virginia Governor’s Debate

Terry McAuliffe portrayed Cuccinelli as extreme, Cuccinelli attacked McAuliffe as incompetent.

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe, center, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli listen to moderator Chuck Todd at a Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce debate Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in McLean, Va.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Sept. 26, 2013, 5:21 a.m.

Wed­nes­day’s gubernat­ori­al de­bate between Demo­crat Terry McAul­iffe and Re­pub­lic­an Ken Cuc­cinelli was filled with nu­mer­ous neg­at­ive at­tacks.

At Hot­line, we put to­geth­er a break­down of the best jabs each can­did­ate de­livered, and what they mean for the fi­nal six weeks of the race.

Cuc­cinelli: “Gov­ernor is not a good entry-level job.” 
Cuc­cinelli’s cam­paign fo­cused on a new mes­sage this month on McAul­iffe’s gov­ern­ing in­ex­per­i­ence. While Cuc­cinelli has served in state gov­ern­ment since 2002, McAul­iffe has nev­er held elect­ive of­fice be­fore. And after an in­flu­en­tial busi­ness PAC en­dorsed Cuc­cinelli over McAul­iffe, the Re­pub­lic­an sought to play him­self up as the can­did­ate with the right re­sume to be gov­ernor. Later in the de­bate, Cuc­cinelli poin­ted out that McAul­iffe wouldn’t be able to “sign” same-sex mar­riage le­gis­la­tion as he had just prom­ised, in­form­ing his op­pon­ent that such a change would have to be passed through bal­lot meas­ure and okayed by the voters, not the gov­ernor. He later ad­ded: “Un­like my op­pon­ent, I do my home­work.”

McAul­iffe: “He has pushed per­son­hood le­gis­la­tion, which would out­law most forms of con­tra­cep­tion, [and] would make the pill il­leg­al in Vir­gin­ia.”
McAul­iffe holds a 24-point lead among wo­men voters, ac­cord­ing to a Wash­ing­ton Post poll re­leased this week, and he ex­ploited that ad­vant­age Wed­nes­day night. McAul­iffe brought up Cuc­cinelli’s stance on wo­men’s is­sues, in­clud­ing con­tra­cep­tion and the Vi­ol­ence Against Wo­men Act no few­er than three times in the hour-long de­bate.

Cuc­cinelli: “We’re go­ing to have to change the state’s motto from ‘Sic Sem­per Tyr­an­nis’ to ‘Quid Pro Quo’”
Cuc­cinelli has been push­ing the mes­sage that McAul­iffe is a wheel­er and deal­er who’s more con­cerned about his own bot­tom line than Vir­gin­ia’s. The line was snappy and re­in­forced a ma­jor cam­paign ar­gu­ment.

McAul­iffe: “I stand by everything I have done in my life.”
McAul­iffe offered that an­swer when asked wheth­er votes would be able to trust him on is­sues of eth­ics, giv­en some of the ques­tions sur­round­ing his busi­ness deal­ings and former polit­ic­al work. The quote was sur­pris­ing from a can­did­ate who has come un­der so much scru­tiny in this cam­paign for his work with GreenTech Auto­mot­ive, which is cur­rently un­der in­vest­ig­a­tion by the Se­cur­it­ies and Ex­change Com­mis­sion and the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cur­ity. McAul­iffe didn’t men­tion GreenTech by name at all in the de­bate, even after Cuc­cinelli spe­cific­ally brought it up, but this was his strongest de­fense of his work there to date.

Cuc­cinelli: “Terry sold more visas to Chinese cit­izens as part of GreenTech than his failed com­pany has sold cars.”
Fa­cing eth­ics ques­tions of his own, it was im­port­ant for Cuc­cinelli to raise McAul­iffe’s own ques­tion­able busi­ness his­tory last night. The SEC and DHS are cur­rently in­vest­ig­at­ing wheth­er GreenTech was giv­en spe­cial treat­ment when ap­ply­ing for visas for Chinese in­vestors be­cause of McAul­iffe’s polit­ic­al con­nec­tions. That McAul­iffe built plants for GreenTech in Mis­sis­sippi and China — not Vir­gin­ia — and has yet to pro­duce a single auto­mobile has been cent­ral to at­tack ads by Cuc­cinelli’s cam­paign and Re­pub­lic­an out­side groups. It also cuts in­to McAul­iffe’s at­tempts to paint him­self as a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man who has the ex­per­i­ence to cre­ate jobs for the Com­mon­wealth. Of course, Cuc­cinelli’s cam­paign has been us­ing sim­il­ar lines since the early days of the race and McAul­iffe con­tin­ues to lead in the polls.

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