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Excerpts: Post Columnist Discusses Gov. Race

Washington Post Metro columnist Robert McCartney was online earlier today to discuss the Monday night Virginia governor's race debate, the Deeds and McDonnell campaigns and his recent columns. Some excerpts follow. Read the entire discussion transcript here.

Northern Virginia: I thought that Deeds (in addition to talking issues) worked harder to introduce his biography to voters who are just "tuning in" -- the great uncle's summer camp "all in" philosophy, the four $20 bills going to college, the older Virginians in his family. Do you agree? We did learn about McDonnell's father's Alzheimer's, which is such a shame, but that was the only really personal or emotional thought from him.

Robert McCartney: Yes, Deeds talked a bit more about personal stuff than McDonnell. I've heard Deeds use some of those anecdotes before in public, but he probably figured it made sense to repeat them since this was the first debate televised live in prime time and a lot of people were tuning in for the first time.

Abingdon, Va.: Why is the press not picking up Deeds's argument that McDonnell has a record of OPPOSING legislation for key positions he now embraces like jobs creation and equal pay for equal work?

Robert McCartney: The Post's editorial page wrote a strong editorial a while ago pointing out that McDonnell in the past opposed efforts to expand the governor's opportunity fund, which helps the state recruit companies to invest in Virginia. Now McDonnell is for expanding that fund, saying the recession led him to change his position.

I pointed out in my column last Thursday that McDonnell only started pushing in a big way for funding for transportation for Northern Virginia in 2007, when he was already preparing to run for governor and knew he'd need support in No. Va. in the race.

Deeds mentioned several times in the debate last night that McDonnell has had what Deeds called "election year conversions" on some issues.

However, I think McDonnell would argue pretty strongly against the idea that he was opposed in the past to jobs creation. He would say, I suspect, that he has consistently opposed higher taxes, and that higher taxes sap jobs growth. That's an ideological dividing line between the candidates.

By the way: Most of the questions I'm getting so far seem to be coming from Deeds supporters. I have yet to see a question from somebody who appears sympathetic to McDonnell.

McDonnell supporter?: "By the way: Most of the questions I'm getting so far seem to be coming from Deeds's supporters. I have yet to see a question from somebody who appears sympathetic to McDonnell."

Given the Post's and your support for Deeds, why would a McDonnell supporter bother to participate in this chat?

Robert McCartney: Now I've heard from some McDonnell supporters! Thanks, folks.

I think we've been tough but fair with both candidates. I wrote a tough column about Deeds after the Fairfax debate. In the press gaggle after that debate, I asked Deeds some of the questions featured in the GOP TV ads.

Washington, D.C.: I don't live in Virginia, but if I did, I would vote for McDonnell. I've been a working woman for 25 years now, but I don't worry about some old thesis. It's not as if McDonnell is going to ban women from working outside the home -- let's get real here. And, neither one of them has a decent transportation plan, but I have NO idea what Deeds' position on taxes is. He changes positions with every question. Two weak candidates, but I'd vote for McDonnell in part to express my disgust at the White House's unlimited spending.

Robert McCartney: Actually, I think Deeds's position on taxes now is pretty clear. (It took awhile.)

Deeds rules out raising taxes for the general fund -- to pay for schools, public safety, etc.

He leaves open the possibility of a tax increase to pay for transportation -- as long as it's part of a bipartisan package approved by the General Assembly.

Falls Church, Va.: Would the Post editorial board really endorse a candidate who ran a negative campaign based on social wedge issues? In the past, they've disdained such practices.

Robert McCartney: That's a good point. The editorial page usually finds negative ads distasteful. Both sides have run negative ads, though.

Read the full discussion.

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  October 13, 2009; 1:57 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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