This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.
BLACKSBURG â?? DemocratÂ Terry McAuliffeÂ and RepublicanÂ Ken CuccinelliÂ dodged political bullets Thursday in their final faceoff atÂ Virginia Tech.
But it was McAuliffe who failed to satisfy debate moderator and WDBJ7 news anchorÂ Jean JadhonÂ about his plans to pay for higher spending on things such as teacher pay and pre-K education.
ExpandingÂ Medicaid,Â McAuliffe said,Â would save the state millions,Â a claim some dispute, and continued with his talking points.
â??At a time (when) weâ??re facing cuts from sequestration, we need to be growing and diversifying our economy, building education, not cutting education,â? McAuliffe said in trying to explain how he would fund his additional spending.
â??OK, Mr. McAuliffe, that will do it. I donâ??t know if you exactly answered what we had asked, but thatâ??s it for that question,â? Jadhon said.
Cuccinelli, who called Medicaid expansion McAuliffeâ??s â??magical money tree,â? at one point conceded 30 of his seconds to McAuliffe, saying he could use the time to explain how he would pay for his programs.
In last monthâ??s gubernatorial debate, NBCâ??sÂ Chuck ToddÂ repeatedly asked McAuliffeÂ how much his proposals would cost, but he couldnâ??t get a number.
Thursday, media didnâ??t have a chance to ask more about the cost issue, because McAuliffe bolted after a few press questions.
But McAuliffe wasnâ??t alone in dodging questions. Cuccinelli didnâ??t give a direct answer when asked about LibertarianÂ Robert SarvisÂ â??Â who has polled double digits in some casesÂ â?? being left out of the debate.
Cuccinelli, trailing McAuliffe by up to 17 pointsÂ in a recentÂ RasmussenÂ poll, has the most at stake â??Â particularly because Sarvis is pulling from people who might otherwise vote for him, according to polling.
Cuccinelli touted his libertarian credentials by mentioning Ron Paul endorsed him.
â??How come the moderator didnâ??t cut off Cuccinelli for not answering the question about Sarvis? She seems tougher on McAuliffe,â? tweetedÂ Amy Gardner, local politics editor for theÂ Washington Post.
All three candidates will take part in a forum noon Saturday at theÂ Virginia War MemorialÂ inÂ Richmond.Â
Kathryn Watson is an investigative reporter with Watchdog.orgâ??s Virginia Bureau, and can be reached atÂ firstname.lastname@example.org.