Cuccinelli, McAuliffe Discuss Small Business, EPA at GMU

It was action in the U.S. Capitol and on Capitol Hill, not at the Virginia Capitol, that drove the debate in the Governor's race Friday.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli were in Northern Virginia to speak to participants in a small business summit at George Mason University.

McAuliffe blasted the vote in the US House that scraps Obamacare and could force a government shutdown, saying it could do serious damage to the Virginia economy.

McAuliffe also sought to link his opponent to the House Republicans who pushed the measure.

"This idea that we're shutting the government down by the Tea Party will have such a dramatic impact on the Virginia economy," said McAuliffe to reporters after his address to the group. "I said in there, Ken Cuccinelli needs to call his Tea Party allies who are his biggest supporters and tell them to put this idealogical agenda aside because it will affect so many lives in Virginia. We can't afford it."

Cuccinelli, who spoke after McAuliffe did not take reporter questions. His staff said he was late for a debate preparation session. They issued a statement responding to McAuliffe's charge saying:

"Ken Cuccinelli is not running for Congress, he's running for governor. This question is nothing more than a cheap political ploy posed by a candidate who thought ObamaCare didn't even go far enough."

But during his speech, Cuccinelli did remind the small business owners, he was the the first attorney general to oppose the Affordable Care Act when it became law and he remains opposed.

"This is economically destructive on a scale i haven't seen before, this one rule and we have to overcome it," said Cuccinelli.

The candidates also took different positions on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposed emission rules rolled out Friday.

The agency announced its plan to cap the amount of greenhouse gasses that could be emitted from new coal plans. Cuccinelli said the proposal would cripple Virginia's coal industry.

"The administration renewed its war on coal today," Cuccinelli said. "And it's important for us in Northern Virginia to remember - in Virginia, the war on coal is a war on our poor."

McAuliffe still hasn't taken a firm position on whether any new coal plants should be allowed in Virginia. He didn't take one yet on the new EPA proposal either.

"We'll begin to look at them immediately, get experts in and all of us look at them together and make that decision," McAuliffe told reporters.

Both men are competing for two big business endorsements expected soon, from the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the Virginia chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business.

Cuccinelli and McAuliffe face one another for only their second debate next Wednesday in an event sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber. The debate will be broadcast live from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on News4 and on stations across Virginia.

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