TYSONS CORNERS (WWBT)- We expected this debate to be explosive, and it delivered. Both candidates zeroed in on one specific weakness in their opponent. For Terry McAuliffe it was whether he is ready to be governor. For Ken Cuccinelli it was his standing with female voters.
Both Cuccinelli and Mcauliffe entered the Capital One building in Fairfax ready to fight.
"Folks, governor is not a good entry-level job," Cuccinelli said of McAuliffe’s lack of experience.
"Frankly, I think Virginia women have had just about enough of Ken Cuccinelli's experience," McAuliffe said about the Attorney General’s record on women’s issues.
And that is the way the hour went, Cuccinelli accusing McAuliffe of being a slick hustler without a deep understanding of the way Richmond operates.
"He can talk at this topline level like anybody could if they read a few talking points,” Cuccinelli said. “But he doesn't know how Virginia government works."
Mcauliffe countered, charging Cuccinelli is most concerned about driving a social ideology.
"He sponsored personhood legislation that would outlaw most forms of contraception, would make the pill illegal," McAuliffe said. A charge Cuccinelli rejects.
But both were forced into a defensive posture by moderator Chuck Todd- who showed McAuliffe doesn't know how much his lofty budget plans will cost.
“There's no-- there's no cost to it,” Todd said. “You don't have a number?
"This is why it's important,” McAuliffe responded. “Determine first how much you have.”
And Cuccinelli's was pressed to separate from Texas senator Ted Cruz's filibuster to tie Obamacare's defunding to a government shutdown.
"So you don't agree with what he is doing?” Todd asked of the Cruz effort. To which Cuccinelli replied "I'd like to see Obamacare pulled out of federal law, but you've got to find compromise as we get the budget."
A showdown that taught is quite a bit about these two candidates- with an election now just 40 days away.
Only one more debate is scheduled for October in Roanoke.
That could include the libertarian Robert Sarvis, who is polling as high as 10%, but was not included Wednesday night.
**NOTE** If you'd like to see the debate in it's entirety it is featured on CSPAN's website.