October 25, 2013 at 12:15 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
McAuliffe portrays Cuccinelli as anti-gay during last debate

Terry McAuliffe, Christopher Schaffer, Levar Stoney, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe (center) at an Equality Virginia fundraiser in Arlington, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe on Thursday once again sought to portray Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as anti-gay during the last gubernatorial debate that took place at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.

McAuliffe pointed out Cuccinelli once described gay Virginians as “soulless human beings” in response to a question that Harry Wilson of Roanoke College asked about how each candidate would compromise and fight for their principles if elected to the Executive Mansion on Nov. 5.

“Who talks like that,” McAuliffe said. “There’s somebody in this audience who might be gay or has a friend who’s gay. You cannot grow and diversify our economy with this mean-spirited language.”

McAuliffe also pointed out that Cuccinelli is among the three attorneys general who did not sign onto a 2012 letter that urged Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act. The former DNC chair further criticized his Republican opponent over his support of more strict regulation of the commonwealth’s abortion clinics and a personhood bill he sponsored in 2007 while in the state Senate.

“We have got to stop this attack on women,” McAuliffe said. “We have got to stop this attack on gay Virginians. We cannot be putting up walls around Virginia if we are going to grow. We have to bring people together.”

A poll that Rasmussen Reports conducted on Oct. 20 shows McAuliffe leads Cuccinelli by a 50-33 percent margin. Eight percent of respondents said they support Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis, who did not participate in the debate that Roanoke television station WDBJ sponsored.

A survey of likely Virginia voters that Quinnipiac University conducted between Oct. 15-21 found McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli by a 46-39 percent margin. Ten percent of respondents backed Sarvis.

Forty-six percent of likely Virginia voters who responded to a separate Quinnipiac University poll between Oct. 2-8 said they feel Cuccinelli is too conservative.

Cuccinelli did not discuss his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples and other LGBT-specific issues during the debate.

He told Wilson his handling of the commonwealth’s economy is among the things for which he wants journalists and pundits to most remember him.

“More people are just dying for the dignity of work — and I mean full-time work, not Obamacare part-time work — full-time work than anything else we’re facing in Virginia right now,” Cuccinelli said.

Sarvis criticized McAuliffe, Cuccinelli and debate organizers in a statement his campaign released late on Thursday.

“Virginia voters were prevented from hearing me discuss the problems and challenges we face,” Sarvis said. “The commonwealth’s electorate was deprived of an opportunity to hear about my vision of Virginia that’s both open-minded and open for business.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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