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Live Blog: The Virginia Bar Association Debate

Rosalind Helderman

We come to you live from the historic Homestead, where Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell will be debating today live. The ballroom is full. The TV cameras are lined up. Follow to the jump for our live analysis as the event unfolds.

12:16 p.m. Now we're applauding the candidates and concluding. Thank you for joining us today. Check back to www.washingtonpost.com for additional coverage of the debate.

12:13 p.m. We're at closing statements. The Deeds closing: I'm more likely to build bipartisan coalitions. Notes, against, standing with Warner. And his Republican supporters. And McDonnell? He too argues he's the best positioned to build bipartisan coalitions. And concludes by saying he hopes to have 10 more. *10* more? Wasn't it supposed to be 9 more?

12:11 p.m.: Our last question is, once again, on the issue of federal and state authority. Giving McDonnell yet another chance to hit card check, cap and trade and bash the Democratic-led Congress. Deeds calls cap and trade and card check federal issues "we've already addressed" and asks to spend more of the campaign talking Virginia.

12:08 p.m.: And now McDonnell praises Kaine, something else we haven't heard today from Deeds! He calls Kaine's handling of the Tech tragedy and the mental health implications "his finest hour." He says he opposes closing the gun show loophole but supported fixing mental health issues.

12:06 p.m.: Guns on the table. "Frankly," begins Deeds. Which is usually not followed by a frank comment, but this time it is, "I have not been a supporter of gun control legislation." But Deeds said he was persuaded by Va Tech victim families to work the legislation on the gun show loop hole.

12:02 p.m.: Our moderator uses discretion to observe that both candidates seem to be downplaying social issues. Both candidates say the economy is their top priority. Deeds says he's never made these issues a center of his career, never introduced legislation on them. That, of course, is an unspoken dig at McDonnell, who has indeed. McDonnell says he thinks "strengthening families" remains important. And issues yet one more praise of Obama and his fatherhood initiative. That's been several praising comments from McDonnell for the president. We'll have to review the tape to be sure, but don't think Deeds has mentioned him yet.

11:59 a.m.: The question for an Internet watcher is about gay rights. "We didn't ask questions about personal preferences," said McDonnell in saying that his office did not discriminate in hiring. Merit was all that was needed. Deeds on gay marriage and unions: "They're off the table and non issues."

11:58 a.m.: Peter! Paul! They're back. Deeds says McDonnell's plan robs one, pays the other. His plan? Find consensus.

11:56 a.m.: So now both McDonnell and Deeds have suggested folks go to their websites to see their plans. But McDonnell raises the stakes: He tells people to go to *Deeds* website to read his transportation plan. Again he calls it a "wish list, not a plan." Think we're going to be hearing that line a few times in the next few months?

11:54 a.m.: "Creigh you don't have a plan" says McDonnell. Then he says "previous governors" have done this too. Not committed on taxes and then proposed the largest tax increase in Virginia history. Wouldn't that be Gov. Warner? Isn't he pretty popular and elected to the U.S. Senate pretty handily despite that 2004 tax proposal?

11:51 a.m.: McDonnell's question: Will you raise taxes for transportation? Deeds says this question is the politics of gotcha. "I'm not going to presume what will or will not pass the General Assembly next year ... but I will not fix transportation on the backs of school children." We're going to hear a lot more about this: McDonnell will use this answer to say Deeds hasn't ruled out tax increases.

11:48 a.m. Whoa, 2008 redux. Deeds question to McDonnell: Why did he recently praise Bush economic policies. Where has he been the last 8 years. And McDonnell responds with some familiarity too. Bush did well after Sept. 11 he said. But also claims he's been willing to criticize Bush.

11:46 a.m.: Somehow we're on a conversation about taxes and hunting. All at once. McDonnell accuses Deeds of looking for prosperity in higher taxes and notes some taxes Deeds has voted to increase. But Deeds says McDonnell has voted for tax increases too, including every huntin' and fishin' fee increase. "What do you have with huntin' " says Deeds.

11:43 a.m.: McDonnell says that's a "no" -- Deeds won't join him in writing a letter or making a phone call to senators. Which isn't quite fair, since McDonnell didn't originally ask him whether he would make a phone call only whether he would write a letter. But he says standing up to Washington is important to protecting jobs.

11: 41 a.m.: Deeds ducks the letter issue -- since, you know, he talks to them all the time. He says he has opposition to cap and trade but he says McDonnell needs to pay more attention to what's going on around the breakfast table in Virginia instead of what's going on in Congress.

11:38 a.m.: McDonnell jokingly asks Creigh: Your parents named you Robert. You could have been a Bob -- why do you by Creigh? We're thinking that might be a little mocking at us, since we did a story on that topic. But, if you're interested, take a look.

His serious question: Deeds, will you sign a letter with me to ask Sen. Warner and Webb opposing cap and trade?

11:36 a.m.: This is the Bar Association, so we're on the topic of judge selection. There's agreement on that judges need to be objective and selection should be merit-based.

11:33: We've got our first e-mail from one of the campaigns and it's interesting what the topic is: Cap and Trade. An e-mail from Deeds' campaign indicates he does not support the federal bill, citing a tweet Deeds issued on the topic expressing hesitations with the federal bill. That may not go over well with environmentalists in his party who think the legislation is critically important.

11:32 a.m.: Nope, Deeds insists. It's McDonnell who is out of the MS. That's because he's introduced 35 bills restricting abortion in his career.

11:31 a.m.: An interesting way of asking a question about social issues from moderator Smolla. He asks: Are these issues central to you? Deeds notes he's not running for these reasons, but they offer stark differences. And McDonnell, who has long been associated with these socially conservative issues? He's talking about the golden rule, being nice to each. Taking yet another page from Obama, he says people of good will have a lot of common ground. But he also uses the big "ms" word -- Deeds is "outside the mainstream" on abortion, he says.

11:27: Back atcha McDonnell. Deeds says McDonnell is playing the politics of division. Then notes that McDonnell voted three times to "decimate" the same governor's opportunity fund he now proposes to increase. "He was against it before he was for it," says Deeds in a Bushian line.

11:25: McDonnell's using a numbered list to explain proposals for economic development. Always a good idea for making it sound like he's got specific proposals. And here's a quote likely to be mentioned in a lot of stories tomorrow. McDonnell's on Deeds transportation proposals: "He's got a wish list but no money. That's not responsible."

11:24: Asked about specific proposals Deeds goes back to need to fix transportation. "My friend talks about his commitment to education...but he'll pit school children against transportation." My friend? Very John McCain of Deeds. But we've seen this over the last week--that McDonnell would steal kid's lunch money (and book money and teacher salary money) instead of coming up with new money for roads.

11:20 a.m.: Deeds notes his home is 23 miles away from the debate site. In Bath, that's just down the road. "How do we pay for it? That was ultimately the question," says Deeds. But doesn't quite answer it either. Instead says he would do transportation first thing. And then says there's not really a lot of difference between my opponent and me and President Obama on this. Really? Is McDonnell going to get a wedge in between Deeds and Obama?

11:18 a.m.: First question to McDonnell -- how would he fund the new college degrees he proposed and beefing up charter schools. McDonnell gets in his first mention of Obama: "I think he's right on that. I will be a strong supporter of that. My opponent will not." That's an interesting dynamic to watch from the Republican. He talks merit pay and character eduction. Didn't hear an answer on how to fund his 100,000 new degrees though.

11:16 a.m.: Deeds mentions standing with Mark Warner with his first breath. I haven't immediately heard Tim Kaine's name. Moderate, moderate, moderate he says. He accuses McDonnell of standing against the Warner moderate business coalition. He says McDonnell supports the failed economic policies of the past. Ouch again.

11:14 a.m.: Also takes little time for McDonnell to hit Deeds on a federal bill -- cap and trade in this case. He ends by saying Deeds is promoting job killing proposals. Ouch.

11:12 a.m.: McDonnell gets in his first dig at Deeds before hitting the period of his first sentence. He welcomes everyone to what he hopes will be the first of 10 "real" debates, referencing the debate over how many debates the candidates should have now underway. Deeds has proposed 4 debates and 6 forums.

11:10 a.m.: "None of us want a governor who has a habit of running red lights" our moderator tells the candidates, encouraging them not to go over time. Har, har, the crowd says.

11:08 a.m.: Creigh Deeds gets introduced first. McDonnell next. He gets a much louder cheer from the crowd -- surprising perhaps given that we're on Deeds' home turf here in Bath County.

11:06 a.m.We're kicking off. Our moderator Rod Smolla, dean of the Washington & Lee School of law is about to get us going.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  July 25, 2009; 10:57 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Next: Photos From the Debate

Comments

Watched the whole debate and Deeds ought to just drop out now and save himself a lot of money and embarrassment. He has no plan for Virginia and his "business unfriendly" platform will doom the Virginia economy if we were dumb enough to elect him. McDonnell is the future of Virginia!

Posted by: A-COL | July 25, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

I got very frustrated that McDonnell didn't answer the questions asked. What DOES he think about gay garriage (the question was not about equal opportunity), how will he fund all those educational programs, how will he attract new business without offering financial incentive? It makes no sense. Just exactly who "has a wish list and now money"?

I support Creigh for a reason--and saw why in today's debate: Responding directly to questions matters--slick obfuscations don't show leadership. Maybe to some voters a con job appeals. However, do those folks really want a government that isn't responsive?

Posted by: ViennaBelle | July 25, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I hope Deeds is asked more questions about his support for "green jobs" and how much of a difference he thinks it will make in unemployment. I was on Deeds email list for a while and his claims about green jobs and alternative energy struck me as very unrealistic.

Posted by: VirginiaIndependent | July 25, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

A clear McDonnell Victory! Watched the whole thing and read the comments as the debate progressed. either everyone logged on were Bob's fans or he clobbered Deeds because the comments were one-sidedly in favor of McDonnell!

Posted by: A-COL | July 25, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

Creigh Deeds is the best candidate for governor. McDonnell is cloaking himself as a "governor for jobs" person" but he's actually a social conservative and that's no good for being governor. Creigh Deeds, although shouldn't ignore LGBT rights because of their importance.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | July 25, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

If that was a fight, they would have stopped it. McDonnell ate his lunch..

Posted by: SMWE357 | July 25, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

Watched the whole debate and Deeds ought to just drop out now and save himself a lot of money and embarrassment. He has no plan for Virginia and his "business unfriendly" platform will doom the Virginia economy if we were dumb enough to elect him. McDonnell is the future of Virginia!

Posted by: A-COL | July 25, 2009 12:34 PM


Are u f**ing kidding!!!! Give u guys back the house after u F**ed it up?

It's not hard to discern that you are a Limbaugh Kool Aid Drinker. VA Dont be Stupid and elect GW Bush/Reagan again.

Posted by: aunkmaa1 | July 26, 2009 7:14 AM | Report abuse

If that was a fight, they would have stopped it. McDonnell ate his lunch..

Posted by: SMWE357 | July 25, 2009 4:58 PM


VA can complicate this Economic Recovery by electing a Right Winger who beleives and espouses Fantasy Economics and Social Nightmare. Wakeup VA this should not be a Race, DO NOT ELECT MCDONNELL.

Posted by: aunkmaa1 | July 26, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

I just finished reading the blog posting (thank you, Ms. Helderman, for capturing the blow-by-blow) and found that Mr. McDonnell seemed to pushing the social (conservative) issues pretty hard which I suspect is an appeal to his base. Creigh Deeds, on the other hand, wasn't making an appeal to the base because that's not who he is. He is one of the more conservative democrats in the state which made (makes) him the best choice for Democrats given how 'purple' our state is.


Following on the traditions of Mark Warner (heard repeatedly), Tim Kaine (who IS the man that has continued -- and advanced -- the Warner/Kaine agenda), Creigh Deeds is smart to build upon that legacy while being true to himself and his values as a conservative Democrat. Because he is honest with voters (to a fault, perhaps), Virginians who want PRINCIPLED leadership from a man who would be masterful at bridging the divide between Republicans and Democrats (to the point where he may occasionally 'break ranks' with his own party), Creigh Deeds is the right choice for Virginia.

Posted by: HigherEducationAdvocate | July 26, 2009 8:46 AM | Report abuse

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