(CNN) - In a race already peppered with heated rhetoric and negative campaign ads, the attacks did not let up in the third and final debate between the two candidates vying for Virginia’s governor.
Leading in the polls since the partial federal government shutdown, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe hit opponent Ken Cuccinelli over social issues like abortion and gay rights while Cuccinelli fought back, linking McAuliffe to Obamacare and its rocky roll-out, asking "Why would we expand failure?”
Issues discussed ranged from gun control to bipartisan compromise in the wake of Washington’s shutdown showdown. Though the attacks varied little from previous debates, the candidates hit the ground running, first decrying their opponent’s respective financial plans for the Commonwealth.
“His plan is a fiscal disaster for the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said at the beginning on the hour-long debate hosted on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia.
“His plan is like believing he came here on a unicorn tonight,” he said pointing to what McAuliffe called “fiscally irresponsible” tax cuts.
“He’s been very clear that he doesn’t like my plan,” Cuccinelli shot back. “I like puppies, but I don’t bring a puppy home if I don’t have a plan for how I’m going to deal with that puppy."
"He’s all puppy and no plan.”
McAuliffe reiterated his stance on gun control, pointing to a pin on his jacket honoring victims of 2007’s Virginia Tech mass shooting.
“I don’t care what grade I got from the NRA. As governor I want to make sure our communities are safe” he said, pushing for universal background checks and against arming teachers and administrators in schools.
Cuccinelli also mentioned the Virginia Tech tragedy calling himself a strong advocate for enforcing the current gun laws while touting his “A” rating from the National Rifle Association.
Both candidates pointed to job creation when asked what their one signature accomplishment of four years as governor would be. Cuccinelli said his plan to create jobs would result in 58,000 new jobs. McAuliffe stressed the need to diversify the economy.
Going into the debate, recent polls showed McAuliffe, a businessman and former chair of the Democratic National Committee, leading Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general and former state senator, by single digits.
The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday showed McAuliffe with a 46%-39% advantage over Cuccinelli.
Candidates on both sides have negative favorability ratings in recent polls, and the Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board declined to throw its support behind either candidate, withholding an endorsement on Sunday.
Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was not allow to participate in the debate, though the same Quinnipiac poll showed the third party candidate pulling in 10% of likely voters. Sarvis' solid standing reflects possible discontent with both mainstream candidates. Sarvis participated in the debate via Twitter.
McAuliffe has gotten some big-name help in the race including Hillary Clinton last Saturday and, starting Sunday, Bill Clinton.
Outside interest groups have poured millions into the race, fueling negative attack ads from both sides of the campaign.
Virginia’s race is one of only two governor’s races this year. The election will be held on November 5. The winner of the election will succeed outgoing GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell.
I think Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate excluded from the debate summed it up nicely, "... Battle of the wits between two unarmed men". What a shame one of these two men will be Virginia's next governor.! Virginia deserves better!
Terry McAuliffe is the projected winner. The Cucch is gone
The tea party Cuccinelli and McDonnell are one and the same guilty of corruption accepting gifts for government contracts!!
The GOP Cucinnelli has no shame and so guilty to embrace the illegal voter ID scam!! He totally supports this to disenfranchise the poor voting population that votes for Democrats!!
We don't want to hear anything from the GOP liers about creating jobs when they just put 800,000 people out of work for weeks and added 24 billon dallars to the defict in 10 days??????these GOP zombies are fiscal conservatives???? The hop is a national joke and will lose the house in 2014 as a reward for their incompetence . They only need to LOSE 18 seats , make sure you vote and get rid of this GOP teaparty TRASH!!!!!!
We don't need anymore GOP teaparty incompetent governors trying to take your right to vote away and screwing you out of healthcare and jobs, we heard the jobs BS in 2010,it's not going to work this time, you were already in office and didn't create even one. Your just another GOP teaparty incompetent failure!!!!!!!
When you have to point out an a rating from a lobbyist group like the NRA , it just shows that your openly a CROOK!!!!! What else would you expect from the GOP garbage of America teaparty trash!!!!
Just because you have an "A" rating from the NRA doesn't mean didly squat. If there were universal background checks, maybe Cho wouldn't have been able to purchase his weapons along with his stockpile of ammo. After the government shutdown, us Virginians aren't too fond of Tea Queda. The Cooch's stance on women's health issues is so Taliban like. The women of Virginia need to be Malala's and fight back.
"Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis was not allow to participate in the debate, though the same Quinnipiac poll showed the third party candidate pulling in 10% of likely voters."
I think any candidate polling at double-digits deserves to be in a debate. /gamerigged
Also: puppy dogs and unicorns, eh? Sheesh. We've come a long way down since Douglas and Lincoln, have we not? Well, every people gets the leaders they deserve - take a bow, America.
Translation: Terry McAuliffe handed the cooch his backside, but in an effort to appear "fail & balanced" the "librul" media will call it a wash.