Candidates Face Off

Jul 27, 2014

Democratic Sen. Mark Warner and Republican challenger Ed Gillespie traveled to The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, over the weekend to participate in a debate hosted by the Virginia Bar Association.

In the first, and perhaps only, debate in Virginia’s 2014 Senate race, challenger Ed Gillespie repeatedly said Mark Warner had moved so far from his past, the Governor Warner who worked for bipartisan solutions while in the Executive Mansion from 2002 through 2006 wouldn’t recognize the partisan Senator Warner who is running for a second term. Warner argued that Gillespie couldn’t break free of his past as a Republican political operative and lobbyist. Gillespie said his lobbying experience will make him a better senator.

"I advised people on how you get things done with bi-partisan support in Washington, D.C. and was very effective at doing that."

 Not surprisingly, Warner took a different view.

"If Virginia voters think the answer is a political operative lobbyist, who was lobbyist for Enron – it’s not about lobbying; it’s also who you lobby for – Enron, largest corporate fraud in modern American history, that’s not the kind of solution I believe for partisan gridlock and the problems we have in Washington," said Warner.

The one bit of news that emerged from the proceedings was Gillespie’s announcement that he believes birth control pills should be available over the counter, without a prescription.

"I’ve never said it before. I’ve never really been asked before, but that is my view. And I think that makes a lot of sense when the medical society responsible for determining whether or not it should be or should not be a prescription drug recommends that it be available over the counter. I think that would make life a lot easier for a lot of adult women," said Gillespie.

Gillespie clarified that by over the counter he means birth control pills should be kept behind the counter, like some allergy medications such as Sudafed. While the Affordable Care Act requires that most insurance coverage include contraception, non-prescription medicines are generally not covered by health insurance plans. There are no more debates scheduled so far in the race that the most recent public poll, conducted by Roanoke College, shows Warner leading by 25 percentage points.