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Youngkin, McAuliffe square off in first governor’s debate

The two major candidates shared swipes at each other and discussed COVID and the economy at length

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin met in Grundy for the state-wide televised event.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin met in Grundy for the state-wide televised event.

The two frontrunners to be Virginia’s next governor debated for the first time Thursday night. Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin met in Grundy for the state-wide televised event.

This should have been the third debate between the two, but after a rocky start to the debate season, the two finally met head-on. Moderators asked a number of questions including about abortion, qualified immunity, clean energy, and more, but the two men circled back to COVID and the economy more than anything else.

The Appalachian School of Law played host the Youngkin and McAuliffe Thursday deep in the heart of Virginia’s Coal Country. Moderators started by asking about COVID19 vaccines, a topic the candidates continued coming back to the entire night.

“I have been a strong, strong advocate for everyone to get the vaccine, I do believe that individuals should be allowed to make that decision on our own,” Youngkin said.

“I am for mandating vaccinations for people who teach our children in school, for children who go in higher-ed, hospitals, nursing homes, I want you vaccinated,” McAuliffe said.

The other topic they both kept coming back to was the economy, both saying their policies across the board will help Virginians prosper.

“If we allow this Texas (abortion) law, I can tell you this, Amazon, Google, Facebook. It’s dangerous for a woman’s life, but it’s also crippling to the Virginia economy,” McAuliffe said.

“My plan in fact recognizes that our economy stalled under (McAuliffe’s) leadership, the states around us have blown by us. We need to bring down the cost of living because the liberals in Richmond have been overtaxing Virginians,” Youngkin said.

This debate was the first of this election. Youngkin didn’t accept the traditional first debate at the Homestead in Bath County, and McAuliffe said no to the second. 10 News political expert Ed Lynch said as the race narrows, he was impressed with Youngkin’s performance in his first large-scale, cross-party debate.

“But I thought he held his own, he gave some snark back and definitely if the race is tied going into the debate it was still tied coming out of the debate.” Lynch said.

But both candidates did agree on one thing. As many in the country still question election integrity, both men said they stand behind Virginia’s elections and will respect the outcome when certified by the state.

Both parties have agreed to another debate. They’ll take the stage in two weeks at George Mason University.