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McAuliffe And Cuccinelli Trade Attacks In Second Debate

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli debate Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in McLean, Va.
(AP Photo/The Washington Post, Linda Davidson, Pool)
Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli debate Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in McLean, Va.

In Virginia, candidates for governor met for the second big showdown last night to duke it out—and it wasn't pretty.

It was attack and counter-attack at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce debate in McLean last night, as Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli traded zingers and accusations. (See a full transcript here.)

Cuccinelli tried to paint McAuliffe as a Washington operator who's only interested in helping himself. "If Terry is elected governor, we are going to have to change the state motto from Sic Semper Tyranus to Quid Pro Quo," he quipped.

Cuccinelli repeatedly attacked McAuliffe for pressuring government officials to provide visas for Chinese businessmen. McAuliffe responded by attacking Cuccinelli for taking a turkey dinner from a wealthy businessman fighting a tax bill.

"And I would say to the attorney general, join me in this $100 gift ban. I mean clearly you can buy a lot of turkey for a hundred bucks," he said.

On the issues, the candidates clashed on Medicaid expansion. Cuccinelli opposes it, and warns his opponent's approach is unreasonable. "My opponent repeatedly said that he wouldn't sign a Virginia budget that didn't have the Medicaid expansion in it," he said.

Moderator Chuck Todd pressed McAuliffe to respond. "Well the question is about whether you think President Obama has shown the right leadership to solve this crisis," he said.

"No budget will be shut down in Virginia over the Medicaid expansion," said McAuliffe. "The only one on this stage that almost had effect was Ken Cuccinelli when he almost derailed the Virginia budget when he was trying to defund Planned Parenthood."

Meanwhile Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was not invited to participate in the debate even though his support is growing in the polls. In the hall after the debate, Sarvis said it was a shame the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce excluded him from the debate.

"I heard of attack ads and negativity. I didn't hear a lot of ideas. I just heard a lot of talking points. And I thought it was a shame that we didn't have somebody talking in a more positive manner about real solutions for Virginia," he said.

Recent polls show McAuliffe in the lead—for now. But the election is still six weeks away.

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