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Cuccinelli, McAuliffe trade shots in first debate

The two candidates seeking to be Virginia’s next governor clashed over taxes, spending and Medicaid expansion in a 90-minute campaign curtain raiser at The Homestead Saturday.

The debate between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe featured McAuliffe’s efforts to tar Cuccinelli on the Richmond gift scandal and his social views and Cuccinelli’s efforts to paint McAuliffe as pro-union and indifferent to Virginia job creation.

The debate, hosted by the Virginia Bar Association and moderated by broadcaster Judy Woodruff, was streamed live on the Internet.

McAuliffe suggested Cuccinelli has traded favors with businessman Jonnie Williams, but Cuccinelli conceded nothing more than having referred Williams to a lawyer at his request.

Cuccinelli accused McAuliffe of fabricating claims about his electric car company’s employment figures and a wood pellet company in Hampton Roads that has produced no pellets.

Cuccinelli also attacked McAuliffe for his decision to locate an auto factory in Mississippi rather than in the job-starved Martinsville area of Virginia.

McAuliffe charged Cuccinelli with failing to specify how he would account for a $1.4-billion tax cut. “It is fiscally irresponsible when you can’t pay for it,” McAuliffe said.

Cuccinelli rejoined, saying McAuliffe had not explained how he would impose a potential tax increase.

“This isn’t Washington, Terry. We have to pay for things we put in the budget,” Cuccinelli said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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