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Live Blog: The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce Debate

Rosalind Helderman

Greetings from the glass-and-concrete fortress that is the Capitol One headquarters in Tysons Corner. We'll be live-blogging today's debate between Democrat Creigh Deeds and Republican Bob McDonnell. The debate will be kicking off shortly and so will we. Follow to the jump to read along.

12:08 p.m.: Thanks for joining us. Check back later for full coverage.

12:06 p.m. Deeds says to the businesspeople: When you do interviews to hire, you don't just look at what people say, you ask for references and a resume. He's talking about the Economic Opportunity Fund and Megan's Law and his support from Republican state Sen. John Chichester. And he mentions the thesis, saying that it puts McDonnell's record in context.

12:05 p.m.: McDonnell's closing focuses on his support from the National Federation of Independent Businesses. He notes Deeds's support from big national unions.

12:01 p.m.: Is business important, the two are asked? Why yes! They both say it is. McDonnell says he'll keep taxes and regulation low. Deeds says state infrastructure needs investment to get the economy going. He says the buck would stop with him if he were elected.

11:58 a.m.: To Deeds: Is the opposition to Obama racist? Deeds says he'd like to believe we're beyond that, but there is clearly a hint of racism in some of the criticism. That's going to get a lot of commentary after the debate.

11:57 a.m.: Gregory to McDonnell: Do you endorse supporter Phyllis Schlafly's words calling Obama a "radical?" He says his supporters say all kinds of things. He says Sheila Johnson, another supporter, is his kind of a Democrat.

11:56 a.m.: Is Deeds an "Obama Democrat"? He harrumphes a bit. He's proud to have the president's support and likes him a lot. But he's a "Creigh Deeds Democrat."

11:55 a.m.: There are some whistles of disapproval in the crowd as Deeds says that he wasn't the one who called working women a detriment to the family when he was 34. Hard to know if whistles are from chamber people or McDonnell staffers.

11:53 a.m.: Always borrow from Reagan when you can in a debate. "There you go again," says McDonnell. And then he gets serious -- he says it's insulting for Deeds to say he doesn't support working women when McDonnell's daughters are in the audience.

11:51 a.m.: Depuyt asks Deeds about gay adoption, currently illegal in Virginia. Deeds says something about not supporting discrimination and knowing families look different. He doesn't quite answer. Deeds shifts the topic to right-to-work laws, which McDonnell just accused him of not supporting. Deeds says he's supported by both unions and businesses. What does McDonnell have against working women?

11:49 a.m.: Gregory to Deeds: Would you raise taxes in this environment? Deeds says no ... and then immediately says he's the only candidate who would sign a transportation plan that would include new revenue for transportation. Wouldn't that mean a tax increase?

11:47 a.m.: Deeds says a theme has developed: McDonnell praises things now that Deeds has worked on in the past. He cites the Governor's Opportunity Fund and raising teacher pay to the national average. (That's among the budget amendments that McDonnell is using to slam Deeds as a big spender.)

11:45 a.m.: New question: Mark Warner's really popular, but on his signature proposal -- the 2004 budget plan -- McDonnell voted no. Why? McDonnell says that at the time he thought the tax hike wasn't necessary. That's not the kind of governor he would be. So, if he says he thought it was wrong at the time, does he still think so? We must assume so, but it's a bit hard to tell. He goes on to say that the secret to Virginia's prosperity is low taxes and regulation. Deeds will be all about tax hikes, McDonnell says.

11:44 a.m.: McDonnell praises diversity too, but says local officers should be trained to assist federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

11:41 a.m.: Deeds on immigration: He says people should be here legally, but Virginia can't afford to enforce laws that the federal government has not enforced. He supports comprehensive federal immigration reform. He says there is a "hysteria" that grips the debate sometimes. He opposes that. We're a nation of immigrants.

11:39 a.m.: The candidates are now talking about Northern Virginia. Neither candidate seems to support local income-taxing authority, but they suggest the state's funding distribution formulas need to be discussed. McDonnell talks about his roots in Fairfax County. Deeds jokes he can only be from one place -- Bath County. It's not big enough to put on a sign. (McDonnell has signs up all over NoVa declaring him "NoVa's Own.")

11:33 a.m.: Depuyt asks about the Second Amendment in Virginia. Deeds talks about his office filling with the families of Virginia Tech victims asking him to close the gun show loophole. He said those conversations were behind his decision to support that position. McDonnell says he helped close "the real loophole," the mental health loophole. He says he knows he's off New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Christmas card list for not supporting the closing of the gun show loophole. Uh, does Mayor Bloomberg have a Christmas card list? We're just asking.

11:31 a.m.: Health-care time. McDonnell says he believes in expanding access and bringing down costs but opposes Obama's reform efforts. He says Deeds supports raising Virginia's medical malpractice verdict caps. Deeds says he shared the president's goal. He says an individual mandate makes sense with exemptions for small businesses. Without reform, he says the state's Medicare funding will fall off the cliff.

11:27 a.m.: Gregory asks Deeds, are Guantanamo Bay prisoners more dangerous than other high -security criminals? Deeds says, honestly, he's not sure. That's why he was the first Democrat to oppose bringing Gitmo prisoners to Virginia. And then he says he wants to return to cap-and-trade -- which is a shift from the past, when Deeds typically seemed not to want to talk about this. He turns directly to Bob and says, with great stress in his voice, "I don't support the bill." Once again, he says McDonnell is "lying" on the issue.

11:24 a.m.: Do the candidates support allowing Gitmo prisoners coming to Virginia? First, Deeds returns to cap-and-trade. He says he does not support the cap-and-trade bill that has come out of the House. "He's spending hundreds of thousands of dollars downstate lying to people about my position," says Deeds of McDonnell.

Deeds says he would encourage President Obama to send Gitmo prisoners to another state and says he has a close enough relationship to him that his word would mean something. McDonnell says he will take a stand against importing the prisoners to Virginia.

11:22 a.m.: Now we're talking about energy. McDonnell endorses oil drilling, coal, nuclear, oh my. Deeds says he doesn't oppose any of those things, provided they can be done environmentally safely. He pitches his alternative energy research triangle line.

11:19 a.m.: Deeds says he has a plan: It's using any funding source except redirecting general fund dollars. He says McDonnell's plan is full of items that have been disavowed and rejected by both parties. McDonnell gets in the debate's first real zinger by responding that it was Doug Wilder who recommended selling off the state's ABC stores for more state revenue. "Talk to Doug Wilder. He'll tell you it will work." Ouch. (Wilder so far has declined to endorse Deeds.)

11:17 a.m. Bruce DePuyt has asked about transportation. Deeds says the candidates would do the same projects, but fund them differently. He would call together the General Assembly to come up with a funding scheme. McDonnell says Deeds has no plan and waves a blank piece of paper to try to prove it. Deeds bobbles the URL for his Web site while directing McDonnell to go take a look to see his plan -- it's under "economy" because transportation is an economic issue. McDonnell smirks.

11:16 a.m.: Amy Garner has posted our first fact check. Take a look.

11:14 a.m.: Does McDonnell support equal pay for his own wife, given his 2002 vote? McDonnell says yes -- that the resolution was not "on the merits" but for an equal pay day. Huh? His campaign previously has said the resolution was merely ceremonial.

11:12 a.m.: Deeds is responding. He's insisting the thesis was followed up by McDonnell's record -- voting against the resolution on equal pay and child-care credits. Gregory is asking him why these issues are coming up when they did not in 2005. Deeds says the governor has different responsibilities than the attorney general.

11:10 a.m.: The question is: McDonnell, what's changed in your views? McDonnell is talking about his support for working women. Does he directly answer the question? What has changed? Voters will have to decide. He's talking about how his wife and daughters are all here -- they are working women. His eldest served in Iraq. "I say that's the ultimate working woman," he says.

11:09 a.m.: It's no joke -- David Gregory is truly very tall. He's asking his first question: It's McDonnell's thesis. He's got a copy on the podium.

11:07 a.m.: Deeds is doing his intro now. And we get our first Mark Warner reference -- Deeds voted for the 2004 budget plan, McDonnell voted against. And he already has accused McDonnell of focusing on a narrow social agenda during his time in public life.

11:06 a.m.: We haven't even gotten through McDonnell's intro and we already have our first mention of card-check and cap-and-trade.

11:04 a.m.: Wowzas. Major failure by Capitol One, Fairfax Chamber and News Channel 8 for failing to bring press live coverage in the press room as promised. Whole press corps has streamed into the auditorium where the debate is now in progress. Bob McDonnell has started his intro by saying that Deeds is talking only about social issues and is backwards looking.

10:57 a.m.: Here we are live in the press room of the debate in Fairfax. A revolt is threatening to break out as the News Channel 8 live feed shows no signs of picking up. Our hope is that News Channel 8 will kick in once the debate formally starts at 11. We hear from inside the debate room that introductions have begun -- David Gregory, Bruce DePuyt and a reporter from the Washington Business Journal are getting introduced.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  September 17, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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One question: Which candidate supports the discrimination of homos?

Posted by: madest | September 17, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Both candidates seem more lax than most republicans on the immigration issue. Glad to see more universal acceptance of immigrants. Agree with McDonnell on criminal illegals, however I wonder if he realizes how small the percentage of illegal immigrants are criminal...?

Posted by: awlynn | September 17, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

who are the 3rd party candidates? these two parties suck.

Posted by: millionea7 | September 17, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Deeds goes home after the election.

Posted by: jnsbear | September 17, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

Sure, McDonnell supports working women. He just doesn't support equal pay for working women. Thanks, Caveman Bob.

Posted by: Jayne | September 17, 2009 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Good play-by-play but we can do less with the reporter's own editorial comments showing your liberal bias. Reporters should report the news, you don't have to pretend that you're the know-it-all. Let the voters decide. Glad to see this was a fair match up, but surprised to see Deeds admit he's from a small town to small to put on a sign and him distancing himself from our great President Obama.

Posted by: letsfroggy1 | September 17, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Why not just post the video!! We don't need your color commentary.

I prefer to see the tape & draw my own conclusions about what was important.

I'm still trying to figure out how you hold an important debate @ 11am on a Thursday morning & expect the voters to tune in.

Posted by: JayD0 | September 17, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

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