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Transcript: Sept. 25 Virginia gubernatorial debate

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The following is a transcript of Wednesday's Virginia gubernatorial debate between Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, which was moderated by Chuck Todd of NBC News. The transcript was provided by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the sponsor of the event.

CHUCK TODD:
19:02:39:00: Mr. McAuliffe, by virtue of an earlier coin toss, you will go first with your two minute opening statement. Go ahead.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:02:45:00: Well, thank you, Chuck. And thank you to the Fairfax Chamber for hostin' us tonight and to all Virginians, who are watching at home. And I would like to recognize my wife Dorothy who is here with me tonight. For the last two decades, we have been raising our five children here in Fairfax County. The choice in this race is simple, which candidate is going to govern from the mainstream, work with both parties, and focus on those economic issues that Virginians are concerned about.

19:03:13:00: During this campaign, I have proposed commonsense solutions on issues of education, transportation, and workforce development. I've also been proud to earn the support of so many prominent Republicans, many of whom have never supported a Democrat before. The bipartisan coalition that we have assembled during this campaign reflects the approach that I would take as governor, following in the successful model of Mark Warner.

19:03:41:00: Just a few weeks ago, my opponent changed his campaign staff and his tactics. Probably because he was concerned that a number of Republicans were no longer supporting his campaign. The result has been a sharp increase in the most personal of attacks. They've been called deceitful and false by the press.

19:04:00:00: So I expect more of those kinds of attacks tonight. But what Virginians do expect from us is to hear how we are going to bring folks together in Richmond. With the Department of Defense drawing down its overall spending and now with the sequestration, the next governor will face serious economic headwinds. We cannot afford the next four years in Richmond to be like the last four in Washington.

19:04:26:00: Gridlock, driven by the Tea Party, is once again risking a government shutdown that would be devastating to the Virginia economy. In Virginia, we have a strong record of working together, Democrats and Republicans. And with the challenges that lie ahead, we must embrace the tradition of mainstream solutions. We need those solutions now more than ever.

CHUCK TODD:
19:04:50:00: Thank you.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:04:51:00: And that is what I look forward to talking with you tonight.

CHUCK TODD:
19:04:53:00: Thank — thank you, Mr. McAuliffe. Mr. Cuccinelli, your opening statement.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:04:56:00: Well, I want to thank the Chamber and NBC 4 for hosting us today, Chuck and the panel for their participation, and Terry for being here, as well. It's nice to be right near in the backyard of where I grew up. I'm the only candidate in this race with a lifetime of fighting for Virginians, whether it's preventing sexual assault, helping the homeless, or working to help those suffering from mental illness, a passion of mine for more than a decade and a half.

19:05:23:00: I've also served in state government for over 10 years. And I know how it works. I'm the only candidate in this race who won't need on-the-job training if you elect me your governor this year. In this campaign, my opponent has spent a lot of time telling you why you shouldn't vote for me for governor, but not much time welling — telling you why you should vote for him.

19:05:44:00: You may not always agree with me in this race, but you'll always know where I stand and why I hold the positions that I do. When it comes to economic competitiveness, job creation, and higher education, I know we can all work together to make Virginia a better place to live with lasting results. But it takes a governor who will fight for those issues and not for their own self-interest.

19:06:09:00: Where does my fight come from? Well, my Italian grandfather didn't have more than a sixth grade education. He was one of the toughest, hardest-working folks I've ever known, whether it was as a welder or in a scrapyard where he worked for years, or as a bare knuckle boxer during The Depression, probably his toughest job of all. He was proud to work to support his family.

19:06:31:00: And today, ordinary folks all over Virginia, like my grandfather, want nothing more than to share in the dignity of work. And I have a plan that'll create 58,000 new jobs here in Virginia. Creating jobs, fighting for the middleclass, and fighting for a good education in our children are priorities of my campaign and will be for my governorship. I've proposed detailed policy ideas for each. And I'll begin on day one fighting to put those ideas into action —

CHUCK TODD:
19:06:59:00: All right.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:06:59:00: —if you'll elect me on November 5th.

CHUCK TODD:
19:07:01:00: All right, you guys were pretty good there. Only about five seconds over for both of you. (LAUGH) I'm pleading, we're all pleading with you tonight, that that was your talking points and — and — and hit us — and — and try to answer our questions. So let me begin. It's gonna be a similar question to both of you. But Mr. McAuliffe, you get the first question.

19:07:17:00: Nearly $20 million's been spent on TV ads in this race. 75% of 'em, we did the calculation, have been negative. This is both of you. I want each of you to respond to the stereotype you've been tryin' to create — about the other. Mr. McAuliffe, the stereotype of you is that you're an operator, cheerleader more than a legislator or governor. That you don't have the relevant experience to be governor. And that you're a man in a hurry, who's willing to use political connections, sometimes in very high places, to take shortcuts. Your response?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:07:48:00: I'm a young man who grew up in — Syracuse, New York. I started my first business when I was 14 years old, 'cause I had to help pay for college. I've been involved in a number of businesses since that time, chairman of a bank by the age of 30, built thousands of homes. I've been involved in a wide variety of different businesses. I want to bring that business approach, that business experience. I think it's important to have someone in the governor's office who has those business experience, understands the ups and downs of businesses, understands that risk is inherent in our economy, and is willing to put everything in to make sure we grow and diversify our economy.

19:08:25:00: With sequestration, with the budget cuts that we have seen in the Department of Defense, with $500 billion, the stimulus is over, the next governor's real challenge is how do you grow and diversify our businesses? How do we create new economic activity? Dorothy and I would love to have our five children stay in Virginia. But in order to stay in Virginia, we need to have those jobs of the 21st century, cyber security, nanotechnology, bio life sciences. Those are what we need to do to grow our economy.

19:08:53:00: Now we have had a lot of different ads. And there are differences between the two of us. My opponent has spent most of his career on a social ideological agenda. He has — pushed personhood legislation which would outlaw most forms of contraception, would make the pill illegal in Virginia. He bullied the Board of Health that would shut down the woman's health centers. Women are 50% of the workforce of the United States of America. You cannot grow an economy by putting walls up around Virgin —

CHUCK TODD:
19:09:19:00: I'm gonna stop you there. Mr. Cuccinelli, you have 90 seconds to respond.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:09:22:00: Thank you. (THROAT CLEARS) Well, in this race — of course, we've got our ads on television. I'd point you to the kinds of ads we've been running. Right now you all can see running the ad — about a case that I'm very proud of. One about Thomas Haynesworth. Thomas Haynesworth holds the record in Virginia for serving more time in prison while innocent than anyone in the history of the Commonwealth.

19:09:47:00: And he's out today on a 6-4 vote of our Court of Appeals, because I took that case and joined his side. And we won 6-4, 5-5 is a loss. You know, that's the kind of story we're tryin' to tell, Chuck, in this race. That's a story I'm very proud of. I think there are reasons not to vote for Mr. McAuliffe for governor. We make those — that case as well.

19:10:10:00: But we have a positive record to look back on in my case. We've done a great job in the Attorney General's Office, fighting health care fraud, internet predators. We've worked even with Capital One, as we sit here on some justice issues, justice access issues. Those are things near and dear to my heart. That's where we focused in this race.

19:10:29:00: I'm the only candidate who's gotten both of the major business endorsements so far in this race, from the Northern Virginia Technology Council's tech pack. And just this week from Virginia's small businesses, the N.F.I.B. — has endorsed me, as well, with their 5,500 small business members. They obviously think that my preparation and my plans for growing the economy here in Virginia is best not just for them, but to make Virginia a better place —

CHUCK TODD:
19:10:54:00: All right.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:10:55:00: —to live and raise a family.

CHUCK TODD:
19:10:56:00: Mr. McAuliffe, as you get your — 60 seconds to respond — on here, I want you to deal with this issue. You — you one time said to the New York Times, "I've met all of my business contacts through politics. It's all interrelated." And we've looked at it. And a lot of it is political ties. After all the ethical woes going on right now in Richmond with the current governor, why shouldn't that give the voters pause that there's gonna be some — ethical, questionable deals with too many political figures in your — in your life?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:11:22:00: Well, I've spent a lot of part of my life — volunteerin' in politics. I'm committed, passionate. As I say, I started my first business at a very young age, was successful in business. I want to bring that business experience. Met a lot — awful lot of folks. But listen, I have — stand by everything that I have done in my life. I'm very proud of my accomplishments.

19:11:40:00: As I say, Dorothy and I decided to move to Virginia about 21 years ago, because we knew this was the best place that we could raise our family. But there's a difference when the attorney general who's in the middle of the Star Scientific scandal. I mean, the same gentleman who gave all the gifts to the governor, gave my opponent $18,000 worth of gifts. Star Scientific, they owe Virginia about $1.7 million.

19:12:03:00: And instead of takin' him to court, Ken was bein' taken to trips to New York City. He was — got a $1,500 turkey dinner. I said, "That's a lot of turkey." And he was (UNINTEL) his house, (UNINTEL) Mountlake house. We were owed — the taxpayers of Virginia were owed that money. And instead of goin' and collectin' what was our money, my opponent was actually taking gifts from this gentleman —

CHUCK TODD:
19:12:23:00: All right.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:12:23:00: —and he was buyin' stock and he wasn't disclosin' it. That's —
19:12:26:00
(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:
19:12:26:00: We're gonna get — we're gonna — we're gonna get to that. Mr. Cuccinelli, I want to — go — a 90-second question to you. The — the — the second official question here. This — talk about the stereotype that's been painted of you. That you'll use your governorship to push a social agenda on abortion, gay rights, even — on climate change. That you would be a governor simply for conservatives. And that you will not — consider those who are liberals or moderates in you governing. Your response to this stereotype —

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:12:50:00: Sure —

CHUCK TODD:
19:12:50:00: —that's been painted?

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:12:52:00: I — I think that one of the best responses to this is the broad array of support that we're getting from Democrats, Independents, and bipartisan groups like the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Tech PAC up here in Northern Virginia, the small businesses across Virginia, and the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Farm Bureau, the police.

19:13:09:00: We're getting a broad array of support across Virginia, because I've put forward well-thought-out plans that start with an understanding of how Virginia government works. And that we can use those plans forward, because people can look at my record and see that what I campaign on is what I pursue.

19:13:28:00: And as attorney general, right here in Fairfax County, fighting back against overreaching regulations on a bipartisan basis with the Fairfax Board, we saved Fairfax County taxpayers and Virginia taxpayers about $250 million. Look, I believe — I have some basic beliefs that are fundamental to me. But overwhelming proportion of my time as attorney general has been spent moving Virginia forward economically and protecting liberty and our constitution.

19:13:56:00: That's something you can continue to expect from me as your next governor. You know, the comparison here is someone who has told the New York Times, you know, "You help me, I help you. That's politics," talking about a case where he was an unindicted coconspirator in a teamsters election money laundering case. I mean, if — if Terry's elected governor. We're gonna have to change the state motto from "Sic Semper Tyrannis" to "Quid Pro Quo." And just today in the Washington Post, they have an article — they have an article about how his higher ed policy changed on a dime when he got certain support. Some of them —

CHUCK TODD:
19:14:35:00: All right —

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:14:36:00: —Republican. You know, that kind of trading off without thinking through the policies in — particularly in an area that's gonna make colleges less available to Virginians —
19:14:45:00
(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:
19:14:45:00: Thank you, Mr. — we had a bit of an error there. I know that you followed the rules that were — you followed the time that was on your table there. But — yeah, you actually got a little more time. So you'll get about 95 seconds — Mr. McAuliffe to respond.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:14:56:00: My opponent's been the attorney general. He's run on jobs and transportation when he runs for office. He gets into office. And he runs on and serves with an ideological agenda. Let it be women's health centers, where he bullied the Board of Health to shut him down. He sponsored personhood legislation that would outlaw most forms of contraception, would make the pill illegal.

19:15:15:00: He's referred to gay Virginians as "self-destructive and soulless human beings." He was one of only three attorney generals when the Violence Against Women Act was being reauthorized in the United States Congress. 47 attorney generals signed a letter, violence against women, not controversial. He is one of three who refused to sign it. It has been a pattern.

19:15:39:00: And as it relates to his attack on gay Virginians, when he was attorney general, he sent a letter to every college and university sayin' they could provide no protections against discrimination based upon sexual orientation against professors and students. What happened? Northrop Grumman, which was about to move their national headquarters to Virginia, it was between Maryland and Virginia, obviously the employees squawked at that.

19:16:04:00: And what happened? Governor Bob McDonald had to interject himself to stop his attorney general and save that deal. 300 high payin' jobs were right up the street from where we are today. There are consequences to this mean-spirit attack on women's health, on gay Virginians. If we're gonna build a new economy in Virginia, we're gonna do it by bringing everyone together.

CHUCK TODD:
19:16:28:00: Mr. Cuccinelli, as you — re — prepare your 60-second response to Mr. McAuliffe, I was hopin' you would also respond to what — the Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling said about you and the entire Republican ticket. He said, "It's the most ideologically driven ticket that the GOP has ever put forth." And he is worried that it's pushing away mainstream voters. What do you say?

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:16:48:00: Well, until he stepped out of my race — by a lot of measures, he's more conservative than I am. So I — I think that — he — he had some comments based on not being in this race. The Northrop Grumman charge is false. The soulless comment is offensively false. The kind of personal attacks that Terry opened up his remarks with today by saying this has been going on are coming from Terry McAuliffe.

19:17:16:00: I mean, you all are seeing the ads. It's overwhelmingly negative. It is unbelievably false. And no one up here, no one up here has done more to protect women, which is a focus of his attacks, than I have. Whether it was back when I was an engineering student at UVA and a friend of mine was sexually assaulted, my response was to start a new organization that's still functioning there to protect young women at UVA. And it was the first of its kind in the country. We run multiple domestic violence programs in the Attorney General's Office. And we started from scratch fighting human trafficking.

CHUCK TODD:
19:17:51:00: All right.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:17:50:00: And we've done a great job of it.

CHUCK TODD:
19:17:52:00: Ben Pershing has the next question for Mr. McAuliffe.

BEN PERSHING:
19:17:54:00: Mr. McAuliffe, you proposed spending more money on teacher salaries, on pre-K education, on community colleges. Now we haven't heard quite enough specifics to put an exact price tag on it. But we're wondering how exactly would you pay for that, especially if the General Assembly doesn't approve Medicaid expansion?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:18:11:00: Very important question. And what I've said is responsible budgeting. First of all, when I'm governor, we're gonna look at the efficiencies we can bring to the government. And then we're gonna work together to get that Medicaid expansion. If we don't get the Medicaid expansion, we can't bring in the efficiencies, then I agree with you. There's not money to be spent.

19:18:26:00: So I think it's prudent budgeting first to determine how much money you have. Then when you have it, then you can apply it to your priorities. And this is quite a difference. My opponent has proposed a $1.4 billion tax cut per year. He doesn't say how he'd pay for it. Just the other day, his lieutenant governor said that E.W. Jackson and Ken Cuccinelli want to get rid of the corporate income tax in Virginia.

19:18:51:00: Well, let me tell you what would happen to our budget. You will see hundreds of millions of dollars come out of education. You could see thousands of teachers bein' laid off. At a time that we need to compete on a global basis. As I talked about cyber security and all these very important new businesses, we're not gonna be able to do that, because money will come out of education.

19:19:12:00: It's important for me to have the Medicaid expansion. And when I talk about my budget, I say it's important to figure out how much money you have. And then you prioritize and put the money in. But his plan, $1.4 billion a year, doesn't say how he'd pay for it. That's $6 billion over the course of the next four years. Vince Callahan, the former Republican chairman of the House of Appropriations Committee, said it would put a gigantic hole in our budget. The idea that you could cut $6 billion out of the budget, get rid of the corporate income tax, not take the Medicaid expansion. He didn't want the transportation $6 billion —

CHUCK TODD:
19:19:44:00: Time's up. Thank you, Mr. McAuliffe.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:19:44:00: —it's like me saying I came here on a unicorn. There's just —
19:19:47:00
(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:
19:19:47:00: Mr. Cuccinelli, you got 90 seconds to respond.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:19:50:00: Well, it's hard to find inefficiencies in a government you don't understand. And Terry McAuliffe doesn't know how Virginia government works. He doesn't understand the issues related to Virginia government. He can talk at this topline level like anybody could if they read a few talking points. But he doesn't know how Virginia government works.

19:20:10:00: This came out in the NVCC Tech PAC interviews. And it wouldn't have if he didn't try to bully them out of their endorsement. But he did. And so there was reporting on it. And people noted that I understood the issues and he didn't. I want some the serious candidate when it came to the subject matters that mattered to them. And Terry wasn't.

19:20:29:00: If you don't start with that fundamental baseline knowledge, you don't have an easy time finding inefficiencies. Folks, governor is not a good entry-level job. But that's what it would be for Terry. And I already know what works well. And there are things that work very well in Virginia government. And there's plenty of 'em. But there are areas where we need to do much, much better.

19:20:52:00: Now I would point to Medicaid. Not the expansion, Medicaid itself. One of the biggest parts of our budget. We're one of the best health care fraud fighting — offices in the whole country is my office. I've learned an awful lot about how Medicaid works and doesn't. And we can do a whole lot better, just to talk about one area, to make it more efficient, to make it serve Virginia's poor better than it does today. But I'm the only one prepared to do that and who has a plan —

CHUCK TODD:
19:21:21:00: Okay, that's time.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:21:22:00: —that balances the budget.

CHUCK TODD:
19:21:23:00: When — when you get your six-second response, Mr. McAuliffe, you didn't give us a price tag. Why can't you — you've been runnin' for governor for four years. Why can't you give us a price tag on what you want to — what spending you want to expand? What's the price tag?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:21:32:00: Well, I'll — I'll tell you what I'd love to spend it on. But — first of all, I — I want pre-K, early childhood development. I think that's very important. I talk about what we need to do on teacher pay. We need accountability. I've called for a total reform of the SOLs. They don't work in their present form. We don't have accountability.

19:21:48:00: Our students are being taught to memorize. Teachers are being taught to take tests and how to give tests. That's — that's not right. That's not how you build the cognitive mind, creative reasoning. We need to be involved in the process early to make sure that we have progress-based data, not these memorization tests.

19:22:05:00: I talk about the community colleges. We need to invest. But Chuck, the key is going to be the Medicaid expansion. I have said this. My opponent doesn't want it. I want it. And it's bipartisan. The Fairfax Chamber. There's Jim Corcoran in the front row. The Fairfax Chamber supports the Medicaid expansion. The Virginia Chamber of Commerce supports the Medicaid expansion. So does Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. This is bipartisan mainstream. We are gonna bring back to Virginia, over the course of the next seven years, $21 billion of our money that we're payin' in. Why would we not bring that back —
19:22:34:00
(OVERTALK)

CHUCK TODD:
19:22:34:00: Okay, so — so you don't have a price tag?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:22:36:00: —and it will create — wait, let me finish. This Medicaid's very important.

CHUCK TODD:
19:22:39:00: I know, I know. We're — we're — time's up.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:22:39:00: 33,000 new jobs created, Chuck. This is so important for Virginia —

CHUCK TODD:
19:22:42:00: I — I just want to clarify, no price tag?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:22:45:00: It's a priority. What —

CHUCK TODD:
19:22:46:00: There's no — there's no cost to it. You don't have a number?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:22:47:00: This is why it's important. Determine first how much you have. Then you can do it to your priorities.

CHUCK TODD:
19:22:51:00: All right, the next question, Aaron Gilchrist for — Mr. Cuccinelli.

AARON GILCHRIST:
19:22:54:00: Mr. Cuccinelli, as has been mentioned, your economic plan cuts taxes by $1.4 billion, when it's fully implemented. And you propose creating a commission to find ways to pay for the big tax cut. How do you respond to Virginians who say, "I'm not voting for a gov — I'm voting for a governor, I'm not voting for a commission"? Isn't leadership about providing some specifics, in this case, on tax breaks and loopholes that would go away?

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:23:19:00: Yes. My tax relief plan was designed to spur job growth and to — more job creation — put more money in the hands of our businesses, so they can reinvest it, and in our fam — in our family's budget. It's been analyzed and found to grow about 58,000 jobs if we can fully implement it. It'll re — it'll include lowering the personal income tax to 5%, the business income tax to 4%. And by the way, I would note there, North Carolina two months ago passed a package where their business income tax will be half of ours if we don't act.

19:23:54:00: And even if we achieve the goals I've set out of getting down to 4%, they will still get under us if they meet their revenue estimates. My friend, Doug Gansler, on the other side of the river just announced for governor in Maryland, is talking about the fact that Virginia's eating Maryland alive in this front and that they need to bring their taxes down to compete with us.

19:24:14:00: We need to compete and do it effectively. I'll eliminate about 15% of corporate loopholes and tax breaks that don't work as well as the other 85%. And we'll also cap growth and spending at about three and a half percent to pay for this package. This isn't the federal government. We don't print money. So both sides of the ledger have to match. The Washington Post gave my opponent three Pinocchios for the statement you heard tonight of "He has no way to pay for it." Aaron, we've put a process in place that will accomplish the financial goals we need to to do the tax cuts. And if we don't get the cuts —

CHUCK TODD:
19:24:52:00: Thank you, sir.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:24:52:00: —we don't get to do the taxes.

CHUCK TODD:
19:24:53:00: 90 seconds, Mr. McAuliffe.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:24:56:00: If you take the attorney general's plan, Virginia will be in financial ruin. He did not — he did not support the governor on the transportation, the bipartisan transportation bill. I was all in, $6 billion we're gonna be able now to spend on transportation. When everybody drove in here to this beautiful hall, you went under l — underneath the new Silver Line, which my opponent said — he was the only statewide official to come out against it. And he said he would actually kill it after it was halfway completed.

19:25:21:00: I talk about education. This is so important. We need to invest in education. His tax plan takes $6 billion out of the budget over the course of the next four years. He and E.W. Jackson believe we should also get rid of the corporate income tax. He doesn't want the Medicaid expansion. He's called for the end of the Department of Education.

19:25:41:00: We cannot grow a 21st century. We cannot be those global leaders. We need to replace with sequestration, we've all seen the numbers. We know what his tax plan would do to the local communities. Sharon Bolivo's (PH) right here in the front row. What it would mean to Fairfax County to be losing this revenue. What it would mean to Sharon Bolivo and Fairfax County and the loss of teachers at a time we should be investing in our teachers, investing in those STEM courses, science, technology, engineering, and math. You can't do that. His plan literally would force us to lay off thousands of teachers. As I say, Vince Callahan, the former chairman of the House Republican Appropriations Committee came out and said it would put a hole in our budget. Senator Mark Warner came out the other day.

CHUCK TODD:
19:26:26:00: All right. M — Mr. Cuccinelli, b — as you prepare your 60-second response, you just said loopholes. We all hear that. We don't know what that is. It sounds like you're afraid to tell us what you're thinking about cutting, because it's the — two months before the election.

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:26:40:00: Chuck, what we're gonna do with the — with the loopholes and exemptions is r — rank 'em. We all know what they are. They've all been identified.

CHUCK TODD:
19:26:47:00: What are they?

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:26:48:00: But — but — the — well, there's — there's literally scores of them. And the — the standard of eliminating one is what's critical here. If all we're doing is giving money to a business interest, that's not something that's working for the people paying for it, which is the taxpayers of Virginia.

19:27:05:00: If instead, out of that tax credit, we get other economic benefits that return to the people, Virginia's people, paying for it, that's a tax credit to keep. Those are the ones that we want to grow our economy. But on a bipartisan basis. We've got to be able to find at least a sixth of them, about 15%, that don't perform, that don't meet that standard. That's all we have to do to get our 58,000 job-creating tax plan — put in effect. I'm the only candidate with a plan to grow jobs, other than to say the word "jobs" repeatedly.

CHUCK TODD:
19:27:43:00: Julie Kerry has the next question for Mr. McAuliffe.

JULIE KERRY:
19:27:45:00: Well, the tragic shooting at the Navy Yard has once again cast a spotlight on gun laws. Mr. McAuliffe, as part of your plan to strengthen Virginia's cities, you say you support universal background checks, limiting the size of magazine, a return to the one-gun a month purchase rule. But missing from that list is and assault weapons ban, something you said as recently as December of 2012 that you supported. So I have a two-part question. First, have you changed your mind about an assault weapons ban? And secondly, how big a priority would you make it as governor to change Virginia's gun laws?

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:28:16:00: I haven't changed my mind. It's a very pertinent question for tonight. Obviously, after the tragedy we just had at the Navy Yard — the tragedy we had in Virginia, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown, Connecticut, as a father and as a husband, I can speak for everybody in this audience. When we drop our children off at school and we dropped our loved ones off at work, we want to know that they're gonna be safe, that our communities are safe. It is so important.

19:28:50:00: That's why I'm for responsible gun ownership. I have called for universal background checks. My opponent doesn't support that. I'm a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I'm a hunter. I own guns. I've gone through background checks. They take just a couple minutes. We have a gigantic loophole in Virginia. You can buy guns through mail order. You can go to these gun show loopholes.

19:29:14:00: There are certain individuals who just should not own a gun. There are individuals that have mental illness. I think this is such a critical issue for us. How many people have to be killed till we wake up to have sensible gun ownership? Now I was very dismayed with the United States Senate this year. 91% of Americans support universal background checks. And the Senate refused to even bring it up for a vote. As governor, I'm gonna push. Most importantly, we need universal background checks for everyone —

CHUCK TODD:
19:29:51:00: Mr. Cuccinelli, could —

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:29:51:00: —to keep our loved ones safe.

CHUCK TODD:
19:29:51:00: —you — could you address in your — 90 seconds why all of the — recommendations from the Virginia Tech review haven't been implemented, including background checks?

KEN CUCCINELLI:
19:30:01:00: Of course, the — tragedy at Virginia Tech led us to look at a lot of things. And for those of you who know me, you know that I have been deeply involved in working with people suffering from mental illness for years. And — one of the common themes in the most public tragedies is that we're dealing with people who suffer from mental illness.

19:30:22:00: I would tell you, though, that the more common tragedy in mental illness is day to day, one person at a time, that you don't read about in the paper. It's a suicide. It's a family struggling and they're at their wits' end to try and get one of their family members on a path to recovery and — sustainability. We have not found — gun control to — to effect that, to be effective in that area.

19:30:51:00: What we've done in Virginia is we have become the number one state per capita in screening out people with mental illness from gun purchases. We're the f — we're the best state at that in the country. We're also the number one state that I'm aware of, The Department of Justice doesn't keep data on all of them — in terms of prosecuting people who attempt to buy guns illegally.

19:31:11:00: That is the best way to enforce our gun laws is to be aggressive and proactive. I'm running against the only F-rated candidate from the — N.R.A., the only one of all six running statewide. I will support the Second Amendment. It deserves support — as does our whole constitution. But I will continue to focus on where I believe the main source of this problem is. And that is resolving mental health issues.

CHUCK TODD:
19:31:35:00: All right. Mr. McAuliffe, you've got 60.

TERRY MCAULIFFE:
19:31:38:00: He absolutely said nothing with that response as it relates to gun control. Obviously, we both believe in investing in — in — in mental illness, mental health, and what we need to do. I can tell you this, without the Medicaid expansion money, there's not a penny for any new investment in mental health, not a penny. With his tax plan that would take all this money out of our budget, there's not a penny.

19:31:58:00: So it's really just talk. Now whatever rating I may get from the N.R.A., I'm gonna stand here and tell you today that as governor, I want to make sure that every one of our citizens in the Commonwealth of Virginia are safe. Everyone of our children, when they go into a classroom, should know that they are safe. When any one of our loved ones goes into work, what happened at the Navy Yard the other day is continued pattern of what's going on. We need to eliminate guns from the folks who should not own guns. There are many reasons why individuals who are dangerous, who have a issue of mental hellness — mental illness. And a background check, I've done it, it takes two, three, four minutes.

CHUCK TODD:
19:32:39:00: Thank you there. We're gonna do a pause here for a brief commercial break. We're gonna be right back with many more questions for the candidates of the governor — for governor of Virginia. And after the debate, you can join me and News 4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Kerry for a special Google Hangout on NBCWashington.com. We'll be right back. (APPLAUSE)

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