Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Attack – KIRO 7 News Seattle

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It was a testy second and final debate Tuesday night in Virginia’s high-stakes gubernatorial race between former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin.

With polls showing tight competition just five weeks before election day, the debate revolved around familiar national issues: the pandemic, the right to abortion and former President Donald Trump. Candidates also tried to score points on a number of less controversial topics, including education, crime rates, Youngkin’s background in private equity, and labor law.

Here are the key takeaways from the last gubernatorial debate ahead of Election Day on November 2nd:

THAT ESCALATED QUICKLY

It took Youngkin less than 90 seconds to call McAuliffe a liar.

“He lied to you in the first debate. That’s what politicians do, “said the Republican candidate in his opening speech.

The attack set the tone for the debate, with each candidate personally taking the other on, with Youngkin often being the aggressor.

“I just can’t understand how you can lie to everyone so easily,” Youngkin said during an exchange about abortion.

McAuliffe replied, “You’ve been doing this all night, mate.”

It got particularly bad when the candidates talked about the state budget.

“Income and expenses, I know you’ve been tough. I know they are tough on you, ”said Youngkin. “Terry, you have no idea what you’re talking about.”

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PANDEMIC RULES

McAuliffe repeatedly attacked Youngkin’s opposition to mask and vaccine mandates. It’s an issue that McAuliffe’s team believes is a political winner, especially as the pandemic remains a serious threat in Virginia and beyond.

Youngkin came with a statement outlining his position – “Everyone should get the vaccine … mumps, which has been mandatory in US schools for generations.

He ended up saying he supported the rule on measles and mumps vaccines and said more data was available on those vaccinations.

McAuliffe described Youngkin’s position as dangerous.

He “says if you don’t want to get it, don’t take it. You can’t be the governor and say things like that, ”McAuliffe said. “That is disqualifying.”

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Trump on the ballot?

McAuliffe often tried to associate Youngkin with the former president, calling Youngkin “a Trump wannabe”. Youngkin, who was supported by Trump, didn’t like it.

“There’s an over / under how many times you would say Donald Trump,” said Youngkin. “You’re running against me. It’s Terry McAuliffe versus Glenn Youngkin. “

He added, “The only person who invokes Trump is you.”

Youngkin refused to hug Trump as warmly as some of his main Republican challengers did when Democrat Joe Biden won Trump by 10 percentage points in 2020. And while on stage on Tuesday, Youngkin made headlines in the debate for the last few minutes when asked if he would support Trump if he ran again.

Youngkin initially tried to evade: “Who knows who will run for president in 2024?”

When urged, he made it clear: “If he’s the Republican candidate, I’ll support him.”

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Abortion Fight Comes to Virginia

Candidates exchanged particularly heated rhetoric about abortion, which had become a central topic after the Supreme Court raised arguments in a case involving Roe v. Wade could question.

Youngkin, who downplayed his anti-abortion policy in the election campaign, confirmed that he supports a “pain threshold law” that would ban most abortions past the 20-week mark. Then he turned to his opponent and called McAuliffe “the most extreme candidate for abortion in the country”.

“You want to become the abortion governor,” said Youngkin.

The Democrat seemed to welcome the attack.

“I want every woman in Virginia to listen carefully. I was a wall to protect women’s rights, ”said McAuliffe. He later added, “Women are fed up with people like Glenn Youngkin telling them what to do with their bodies.”

The fight is a likely preview of midterm elections across the country. The Democrats believe that the threat of new abortion restrictions will help attract women. Female voters, especially in the suburbs, played a key role during the Trump era in helping Democrats take control of Congress – and Virginia.

It remains to be seen whether the Democrats can do without Trump as a foil in the Oval Office.

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WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR EDUCATION?

Youngkin’s team believe they forced McAuliffe into a mistake when the contestants got into a discussion about books recently banned from the state’s largest school district.

Fairfax County Public Schools removed two books from school libraries last week because it contained sexually explicit language. Youngkin brought up the incident, saying that parents should have the right to decide whether the books were in schools.

“We saw parents so upset that there was sexually explicit material in the library that they had never seen before. It was shocking, ”he said. “I believe parents should be responsible for their children’s education.”

McAuliffe didn’t have it.

“I will not allow parents to come to schools, take out books and make their own decisions,” said the Democrat. “I don’t think parents should tell schools what to teach.”

The books – “Lawn Boy” by Jonathan Evison and “Gender Queer” by Maia Kobabe – were recently recognized by the American Library Association.

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WHAT ABOUT THE BASE?

With a few exceptions, Youngkin generally offered would-be supporters a moderate type of conservatism to avoid delving too deeply into the culture war themes.

He did not respond to a question about transgender children in schools and said he would welcome refugees from Afghanistan. When asked how to teach school children about racism, he avoided the term “critical racial theory” altogether.

“I think we know America and Virginia have hideous chapters,” said Youngkin, adding, “We don’t have to teach our children to see everything through the glasses of race and then play them off against each other.”

And when the conversation shifted to “electoral integrity” – code for Trump’s false claims about widespread voter fraud that cost him the 2020 elections – Youngkin refused to embrace even the harshest rhetoric of his party and instead tried to put McAuliffe on the defensive push.

He accused McAuliffe of never acknowledging that former President George W. Bush was legitimately elected. He pointed out that Florida officials were after 2000 recount debacle with Chad and butterfly voting slips hanging, using this example to justify his support for the post-2020 election amendment to Virginia law.

Speaking of Trump’s loss, Youngkin said, “I said there was no material fraud. And I believe that the election was demonstrably fair. “

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DEBATE INTERRUPTED

Just 10 minutes after the prime-time debate, a third-party candidate who was banned from the event caused so much publicity that organizers were forced to go to commercials.

Princess Blanding, a black activist and educator who is making a third-party offer, started yelling that she was disfellowshipped when the on-stage discussion turned to gun violence. After the moderator failed to bring the situation under control, he called for safety.

Blanding told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Chamber of Commerce invited her to sit in the audience and then meet with the media.

“It was like that for me, yes, you can get on the bus like everyone else … but you will be in the back of the bus. I qualified, just as they did, to get on the ballot. However, I am being blocked, ”she said.

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