July 20, 2013
Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli squared off in their first debate Saturday at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.
Del. David Toscano, the Democratic House minority leader, says it is clear that McAuliffe won the debate.
"The expectations for him were very low, and he really out-performed quite a good deal," said Toscano.
But Rick Sincere, a contributor to the conservative blog Virginia Politics on Demand, says neither candidate exactly won but the debate was more for judging personality.
"To see the ability of the candidates to think on their feet and what you had were two people with larger than life personalities who clearly don't like each other clashing on a number of issues," Sincere said.
Both candidates stuck to their own talking points throughout the debate hosted by the Virginia Bar Association. For Cuccinelli it was smaller government, taxes and regulation and for McAuliffe it was about social issues including women's reproductive rights.
Scandal also took over some of the debate. McAuliffe took aim at the Republican attorney general over gifts from the CEO of a nutritional supplements firm. Cuccinelli shot back accusing the former Democratic National Committee chair of making up claims about his company's employment figures.
"I think the public has a lot of questions about the Star Scientific issues. It's clear that Cuccinelli took a lot of money from Jonnie Williams and Star Scientific," Toscano said.
"If I were Terry McAuliffe I would not want to be driving the larger gubernatorial debate in that direction. If I were him I would be sticking to the issues," said Sincere.
Toscano and Sincere also have different views on how the investigation into the gifts and money Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family received.
"The governor's problems are playing a role in this campaign," said Toscano.
"My sense is that by October it will be forgotten," Sincere said, adding that most voters are note even aware that the governor's investigation is even going on.
During the next few months the personality and political clash will only continue between the two candidates.
"I think this is an omen for what we're going to be seeing the next few months," Sincere said.