First Virginia Gubernatorial Debate to Set Tone for Rest of Camp - WSET.com - ABC13

First Virginia Gubernatorial Debate to Set Tone for Rest of Campaign

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Lynchburg, VA - The two candidates for Virginia Governor will be slugging it out face to face, in their first debate on Saturday.

We took a closer look at what you can expect, and what the two men have to lose. Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cucinelli will share the spotlight Saturday.

We spoke with a debating expert and while he says the first debate is generally the least intense, it will certainly set the tone for what's to come in this campaign.

"One thing is for sure, and that is that the election will not be won tomorrow" said Mike Hall, the Director of Liberty University's Debate Team.

"The election could be lost tomorrow" he said.

Hall coaches some of the best collegiate debaters in the country. He explains why Saturday's gubernatorial debate could become catastrophic for one candidate, "You've seen debates where a candidate has a major gaff and never recovers" he said.

Hall says for Cucinelli and McAuliffe this first test will set the tone for what's to come in this campaign.

"Those early debates have a way of shaping the narrative of a race. There's always a battle early in a campaign to first define yourself before your opponent defines you and second define your opponent before your opponent has a chance to define themselves" said Hall.

But the campaign ads have already hit the airwaves; a McAuliffe ad bolstering his bi-partisanship; and another with Teiro Cucinelli, attempting to help her husband win with women.

So when they both take to the stage, Hall, says expect them to push those messages even more.

"Both candidates are probably interested in creating a positive impression of their own candidacy" said Hall.

One issue viewers can definitely expect is the ongoing ethics investigation into alleged gifts received by Governor McDonnell. The debate will not be televised, if you're interested in watching it, The Virginia Bar Association will be live streaming it on their website.

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