Cuccinelli, McAuliffe clash during debate
The Virginia gubernatorial debate on Saturday was marked by a lot of fireworks from both sides, as former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe and Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli traded barbs over various scandals.
"The only person who's abandoned or driven business out of Virginia is you, it's you, Terry," Cuccinelli charged. "It certainly isn't me. Instead of putting Virginians first, you put Terry first. It's a common theme for you."
Cuccinelli scored points early on by invoking McAuliffe's time with GreenTech, an electric car company that opened a manufacturing plant in Mississippi instead of Virginia and ultimately floundered.
"OK, so you picked Mississippi; so run for governor in Mississippi," Cuccinelli cracked, to laughs.
McAuliffe explained the decision by repeatedly citing his "fiduciary duty" to "protect shareholders" in business, before swinging back at Cuccinelli by invoking a controversy that continues to swirl around the Republican McDonnell, touching Cuccinelli in the process.
Democrats have been stressing Cuccinelli's initial failure to report thousands of dollars' worth of gifts from the head of dietary supplement company Star Scientific. That's the same company at the heart of troubles plaguing McDonnell, whose family received pricey gifts as well, triggering interest among state and federal investigators.
Both candidates declined to call for McDonnell to step down, though Cuccinelli said "that question is appropriate to ask Gov. McDonnell; it is appropriate to ask him to think about it."
A business owner has "a fiduciary duty in business to protect shareholders, a duty, frankly, you forgot, Ken, when you were taking all of these gifts from Star Scientific," McAuliffe said. "You had a fiduciary duty, sir."
Cuccinelli appeared to be on the defensive for much of the debate, but McAuliffe certainly had his moments on defense as well. Neither candidate delivered a knock out blow and there were no significant gaffes.
The polls show the race virtually tied, with a significant portion of the electorate unfamiliar with either candidate. This one should come down to the wire as both candidates are well funded and have good organizations.