Cuccinelli and McAuliffe Battle it Out in First Gubernatorial De - WSET.com - ABC13

Cuccinelli and McAuliffe Battle it Out in First Gubernatorial Debate

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Hot Springs, VA - For the first time Saturday, the front runners in the race for the Virginia Governor's seat shared the stage. Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe's first debate, hosted by the Virginia Bar Association, was held in Hot Springs Saturday.

At the Homestead Resort, no topic was left untouched. From gay marriage to the scandal surrounding Governor McDonnell, these two candidates came out swinging in a fiery first debate.

"It's difficult to grow an economy when you call gay Virginians soul-less and self-destructive human beings" said McAuliffe.

"This isn't Washington Terry; we have to pay for the things that we want to put in the budget" said Cuccinelli.

And like that, the gloves came right off; like a prize fight, this first debate: round one. PBS Journalist Judy Woodruff moderated.

Topics varied in the first face to face opportunity for these front runners to set the record straight.

"As Governor, would you push to allow gays and lesbians in this state have the right to marry?" asked Woodruff.

"Well let me just say I was proud to be one of the first to come out for marriage equality" replied McAuliffe.

When it came to social issues, gay marriage proved to be a major topic.

"Because I believe marriage ought to be protected, because I believe life begins at conception, just like hundreds of thousands of independents and democrats" said Cuccinelli.

The recent multi-billion dollar Virginia transportation bill proved particularly polarizing, "I supported it, my opponent tried to kill it at every chance he had" said McAuliffe.

McAuliffe pressed bi-partisanship, saying he supporting the republican Governor's bill. Cuccinelli though claiming it has too much silly spending.

"Every single dollar that we have available for transportation spending go to transportation spending and not to line union pockets" he said.

But what would truly steal the show, the scandal swirling around their predecessor, Governor Bob McDonnell. The candidates even at one point asked if he should resign.

"I don't think it's appropriate for the sitting Attorney General to call for the resignation of the Governor" Cuccinelli responded.

"He shouldn't be tried through the newspapers, and the media. Let's see where it goes. Only he knows what's involved" said McAuliffe.

There will likely be at least two more debates, the next one in September, hosted by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.

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