Notable Moments from Virginia Roundtable Event

Left: Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event in McLean, Va., July 14, 2021. Right: Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe participates in a campaign event at Lubber Run Park in Arlington, Va., July 23, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, the two major party candidates to become Virginia’s next governor, participated in a “roundtable discussion” with WAVY News 10 anchors Anita Blanton and Andy Fox that aired on Thursday evening.

The event came in the form of separate interviews of the two candidates, whose answers went unedited. Here are a few notable excerpts from the event:

McAuliffe Won’t Admit Fault on 2000 Election

McAuliffe went first and doubled down on 2000 election trutherism in his answer, refusing to admit that Republican George W. Bush fairly defeated Al Gore. Asked specifically if he believed the Bush was legitimately elected, McAuliffe responded thusly:

“Well we went through a very contentious 2000, if you remember. And I remind you it went all the way to the United States Supreme Court, and it took them way through the second week in December to actually make a decision, and the Supreme Court for the first time in the history of our country stopped the counting of ballots in Florida, and overturned the local Florida Supreme Court.”

Pressed on the issue, McAuliffe would only concede that “Yeah he got sworn in, once you’re sworn in we gotta move on.”

McAuliffe has hammered Youngkin for indulging former president Donald Trump’s 2020 election conspiracies, thought  Youngkin has readily admitted that we not only need to “move on” but that Biden was legitimately elected. The only difference that the Democrat could cite between his thoughts on 2000 and some Republicans’ on 2020 was the involvement of the Supreme Court in the former case.

…And Doubles Down on Keeping Parents Out of Schools

Presented with polling suggesting that by a nineteen point margin, Virginians believe parents should have more influence over classrooms than school boards, McAuliffe declined to back down from his assertion in a debate last week that he doesn’t “think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

McAuliffe tried to argue that his statement came in the context of a particular bill, which is true, but the two candidates were also discussing their broader philosophies on education policy at the time as well. During Thursday’s roundtable event, he would only go so far as to say parents should be able to have “input” on matters of education.

Notably, McAuliffe also told Blanton, an African-American, that even bringing up critical race theory (CRT) in the context of discussions about public school curriculums was ‘racist’ and a ‘dogwhistle,’ when she asked for a definition of the term. He refused to provide such a definition on the grounds that CRT is not taught in Virginia.

McAuliffe professed to be “in this race because of education.”

Youngkin Defends Comments about Abortion and Electability

The first question posed to Youngkin had him address comments he made at a campaign event in which he told conservative voter, which have been featured in ads broadcast by the McAuliffe campaign. Youngkin’s words were “When I’m governor and I have a majority in the House we can start going on offense. But as a campaign topic, sadly, that in in fact won’t win my independent vote that I have to get. So you’ll never hear me support Planned Parenthood.”

Asked directly if he would support taxpayer funding going to Planned Parenthood, Youngkin called himself pro-life except for in the cases of rape, incest, or “when a mother’s life is in jeopardy.” He also called McAuliffe “the most extreme abortion candidate that’s ever run.”

When the Planned Parenthood question was repeated, Youngkin stated that he doesn’t believe “taxpayer funds should be used to fund abortions” and that it “depends on what the money is used for.” A flurry of interruptions prevented him from answering in full.

…And Draws a Contrast on Critical Race Theory

Like his opponent, Youngkin was asked to define critical race theory. Unlike McAuliffe, he did not decline to do so.

“Critical race theory is a political agenda and it is based on the idea that we’re going to separate everyone based on the lens of race and then we’re going to put people into buckets.” He went on to allege that it was first introduced into Virginia’s school system during McAuliffe’s first term as governor between 2013 and 2017.

Youngkin also decried the fact that “we’re at a moment in time where we’re more divided than we’ve ever been before” and echoed Martin Luther King Jr. in calling for a society where “we’re judged by the content of our characters than the color of our skin.” He also insisted that “our entire history should be taught” including that which is “abhorrent.”

The Republican finished on the topic by asserting that “the key thing is to teach our children how to think, not what to think.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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