Due to the weather, some customers may experience late delivery of The Roanoke Times. We apologize for the delay.
Cuccinelli and McAuliffe will have multiple debates. The argument over how many is background noise.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Summer is upon us in a gubernatorial election year, and that means it’s time for debates.
Debates about debates, that is.
Two months ago, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe said he would participate in five debates across Virginia during the general election season, including one at Virginia Tech. That’s more than the number of debates held in recent gubernatorial election cycles, but not enough for Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli.
Shortly after accepting the GOP nomination last month, Cuccinelli challenged McAuliffe to 15 debates, including a joint appearance in Roanoke. In the weeks since, Cuccinelli’s campaign has criticized McAuliffe for balking at the proposal.
“Voters deserve more than scripted sound bites to make an informed decision; they need real debates in every corner of the commonwealth on topics that matter to their communities and their lives,” Cuccinelli said last month.
We agree with that sentiment and encourage the campaigns to get out their calendars and schedule multiple debates. But 15 debates are more than voters should have to endure, let alone the candidates. Cuccinelli surely knew that when he proposed such a schedule.
Perhaps recent history motivated the attorney general. Tim Kaine in 2005 and Bob McDonnell in 2009 clamored for more debates than their opponents would accept. Both were elected governor.
It’s hard to accuse McAuliffe of ducking debates when he has agreed to five of them. But it shouldn’t be hard for both campaigns to schedule multiple forums that inform voters and force candidates to offer more than scripted sound bites. The campaigns should insist on formats that allow for in-depth discussions of issues such as education, economic development, health care and their dueling tax reform plans.
The real rhetorical sparring begins next month, when Cuccinelli and McAuliffe square off for the first time at the Virginia Bar Association meeting in Hot Springs. Until then, the debate over debates is just summertime background noise.
Weather JournalNew batch of moisture for PM