POLITICS: PennAve

Ken Cuccinelli to Joe Biden: Wanna debate?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Joe Biden,Terry McAuliffe,Ken Cuccinelli,Campaigns,PennAve

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, has continually pressured Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe to debate 15 times over the next few months. McAuliffe, instead, has agreed to do five, a more traditional number for the race.

So Cuccinelli is looking for a new sparring partner and on Sunday he issued a challenge to one of McAuliffe's allies: Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden was in the state Saturday as the keynote speaker for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner, the state Democratic Party's top fundraiser of the year, where he blasted Cuccinelli's brand of conservative politics. In one of the more comical campaign stunts of the 2013 cycle, Cuccinelli responded by egging Biden into a debate on Virginia issues.

"It's disappointing and all-too typical that Vice President Biden would be willing to come into Virginia to level false charges on behalf of a candidate who has been unwilling or unable to offer a plan for Virginia's economic future or participate in substantive debates on the issues facing Virginians," Cuccinelli said in a statement. "Since my opponent threatened to walk away from the only debate scheduled, and refuses to engage in other debates across the commonwealth, perhaps his friend, the vice president, will."

Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for McAuliffe, dismissed Cuccinelli's proposal as a political ploy.

"I guess having business leaders laugh at Ken Cuccinelli last week wasn't enough so they're going back for more," Schwerin said. "While Cuccinelli is being laughed at by business leaders and reporters, Terry McAuliffe is focused this week on the 21st Century jobs that can be driven by commercialization of scientific research in Virginia."

McAuliffe and Cuccinelli will square off in their first debate later this month at a meeting of the Virginia Bar Association, a traditional kick-off for gubernatorial debates. PBS' Judy Woodruff will moderate.

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