The first debate of the season between these two former governors who are vying for the open US Senate seat being vacated by the retirement of John Warner took place this morning at the Homestead. As I was a bit busy with another item today (more on that later), I was looking forward to the reports of the debate. I thought The Shad Plank was going to cover it live; instead, we only have their report that it is over, with “no runs, no hits, no errors.” According to the AP (via PilotOnline) “neither former governor scored a breakthrough.”
An earlier report from The Free Lance-Star quoted UVA’s Larry Sabato as saying that Gilmore had to “attack, attack, attack,” which is apparently what he did, although without much success.
The Warner campaign issued a statement immediately after the debate. That appears below the fold.
UPDATE: Excerpts from the debate are also below the fold.
1. Jim Gilmore needed a game changer today to boost his failing campaign. He didn’t get that. He swung desperately, but failed to land a punch.
2. Today showed a clear contrast between Mark Warner and Jim Gilmore. Mark Warner showed his record of results and bipartisan leadership. Jim Gilmore showed that he’s more interested in partisan attacks than
3. On gas, Jim Gilmore just won’t take yes for an answer. Mark Warner Favors A Comprehensive Approach to Energy Independence, Would Lift Federal Moratorium on Offshore Drilling To Let States Decide.
On the Issues:
1. Car Tax- Gilmore is lying about the cost of the car tax. Car tax costs more than TRIPLED from campaign through end of Gilmore’s term- from $620 million to over $2 billion.
2. Budget- Jim Gilmore balanced the budget like Enron balanced it’s budget. To ‘balance the budget’ Jim Gilmore took $650 million from the state’s transportation trust fund, required retailers to ‘pre-pay’ $170 million in sales taxes, and accelerated withholding collections for 70,000 employers (employers were required to pay early- in some cases before employees had been paid). Only 10 days into office, Governor Warner joined with a Republicans Democrats in the General Assembly to undo the worst parts of Gilmore’s budget. His budget gimmicks resulted in a $3.8 billion shortfall that eventually grew to $6 billion.
3. Spending- State Spending Rose By More Than 40 Percent Under Gilmore, The Fourth Largest Increase In The Nation. Gilmore’s spending increase was nearly double that of Governor Warner.
4. Warner Favors A Comprehensive Approach to Energy Independence, Would Lift Federal Moratorium on Offshore Drilling To Let States Decide. Jim Gilmore just won’t take yes for an answer. The Roanoke Times reported that “Warner said he supports lifting the federal moratorium on offshore oil and natural gas exploration ‘to see what’s there,’ and letting states decide whether to allow it.” Warner added, “But let’s not fool ourselves; this is not the long-term solution.”
5. Children’s Health Insurance- Under Gilmore, Virginia Forfeited almost $70 Million In Federal Funds For Children’s Health Insurance, allowing thousands of children to go uninsured. Gilmore is saying that this was welfare for people. Fact it was health care for kids.
6. Southside Virginia- Gilmore talked about helping Southside Virginia, but as governor he vetoed bi-partisan legislation that would have given emergency unemployment assistance in Southside Virginia after the Tultex plant closed.
7. Transportation- Cost of Mixing Bowl project roughly doubled Gilmore’s estimates, yet Gilmore recently claimed he was unaware of cost overruns. Also, the Woodrow Wilson Bridge project was plagued by bickering and lawsuits and the Washington Post reported that it was finished “largely in spite of Mr. Gilmore’s role, not because of it.”
8. Rainy Day Fund. Every penny Gilmore put in the rainy day fund was constitutionally required. He had no choice.
And here are the excepts:
Governor Gilmore, when you left the Governorship, you accepted President Bush’s appointment as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, and you certainly praised his leadership. What is your evaluation of his performance as President now and where, if anywhere, do you differ with his policies?
Thank you, David. It was my honor to be named chairman of the Republican national committee and I served in that capacity for one year. And I was proud to have had the opportunity to do that of behalf of the Republican Party of the United States. The President has been a decisive President to be sure. He has been a person who has stood on principle and he has done so decisively. I think that it would be a helpful thing for the united states to work very hard on its image around the world, to make sure that our friends around there world know we occupy the moral high ground, to make sure that they stand with us in the amazing crises that faces us. But one thing that the President has right is that he was the President during the 9/11 attack just as I was the Governor of Virginia during the 9/11 attack. He and I both understand and I understand full well the international challenge that we face. I was Chairman of the national commission on homeland security and terrorism for the United States government for three years before the attack. And that commission, which still stands as the Bible of homeland security for the United States, we warned that an attack here at home was very likely. We presented the first report to in fact President Clinton, who asked me to the commission and then additional reports later on to the Congress, additional Presidents. The 9/11 attack happened and I took the decisive action that needed to be done. I believe that the President has worked very hard to make sure that the economy has been running well with a tax cut that was put into place, that all Republicans-and in fact it was bipartisan-put a tax cut in place, which has been extremely useful and helpful to the people of this country and those tax cuts are now threatened and that will mean a decisive tax increase. The policies are very different, and the policies make a big difference in the quality of life to the people of this country. Jim Gilmore stands for, I believe, the right policies.
Well I take that then as an endorsement of the last years of the Bush economic policies. I take that then as an endorsement of America’s decline in standing in the world. I take that then as an endorsement of the fact that under the Bush administration we have had no comprehensive energy policy and now are grappling with record gas prices, record oil prices, spending 600 hundred billion dollars of our money buying oil from countries that are almost uniformly anti-American. I take that as well as an endorsement of the current fiscal policies that have led to the worst kind of tax increase, the tax increase that every Virginian pays when they go to the pump or purchase things in the store because of the decline of the dollar. I for one don’t agree with those policies…
Let’s revisit one of the issues that was one of the ideological hot buttons for you, Jim. It was your reluctance to support any kind of children’s health insurance program. Even though the legislature said please let’s put in place this children’s health insurance program you said it offended your philosophical positions. Instead Virginia during your term sent back 56 million in federal dollars that were supposed to come into Virginia that instead got spent in other states to sign up kids for children’s health insurance. Jim was that the right decision, to not sign up those kids for children’s health insurance?
Here’s the answer, Mark. We established that FAMIS program and started it, and we actually created a program that was correct philosophically and in terms of what was best for families. It was a private health insurance, families had to have some responsibility of their own and pay a co-payment. It was not a welfare program, and gave people the dignity to know that they were taking care of themselves with the assistance of a state program like FAMIS. But when Mark Warner came in he concluded that the measure of success was simply putting people on a government welfare program and as a result he lowered the thresholds and then signed everybody up into Medicaid. And what happened was this program went up because everybody went on Medicaid the numbers on Medicaid went up. And that’s what the difference is that he hasn’t told you today. But it reflective of something. And the question is, what are the health care policies that we’re going to face in the United States Senate. Barack Obama has come forward with a health care plan that is gonna say that employers have to pay to play and that in fact they have to offer a certain type of program or they will be taxed if they are an employer, and government will impose that on you. It says that insurance companies have to offer particular kinds of benefits and control certain types of programs. And then for extra measure he puts in a government-controlled program which will squeeze out private insurance. And in fact the more Medicaid goes up like Mark’s type of program, the harder it is on private insurance options. And so the question I’ve got for you Mark, when you get to the United States Senate are you going to be supporting Barack Obama’s health care program, or will you be supporting John McCain and myself, who want to put in place a more private kind of program, a private program that creates associations and more opportunities for private care, and more opportunities for guaranteed admission into private programs, so that in fact you can utilize the private sector, or you gonna go to in fact this type of government control that Barack Obama would like to do? And I think that’s the fundamental question that we have to ask and I think we already know the answer, because when the time came on SCHIP and FAMIS, you put ‘em in a government program.