Virginia gubernatorial candidate and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe answered questions from College of William and Mary students Wednesday. Students for a Better Williamsburg, a non-partisan, student-run political action committee, hosted the event.
Energy was the most popular topic, fitting for an event taking place on Earth Day.
McAuliffe also answered questions on student’s rights, other Virginia democratic politicians and his personal life.
McAuliffe said that he would not support oil drilling in Virginia.
“We would risk an oil spill on our coastline and not get paid for it,” McAuliffe said. “I think that’s nuts.”
One student accused McAuliffe of clinging to coal and stressed the need for renewable energy sources.
McAuliffe denied the claim, saying he was the only gubernatorial candidate who never voted for coal.
At the same time, he stressed Virginia’s pressing energy concerns.
“I have to deal with reality,” he said.
McAuliffe noted that 50 percent of Virginia’s power comes from coal. However, he insisted that if he were able to do things his way, he would not build another coal plant.
McAuliffe also criticized Virginia for standing on the sidelines while other southern states take the lead in building sustainable energy sources.
“In the green area, we aren’t even competitive,” McAuliffe said. “Texas has more oil than any state. Why are they the leader in building wind farms? That should tell you something.”
McAuliffe said that the manufacturing, construction and maintenance of wind farms and light rail would be definite ways to make new green jobs in Virginia.
The candidate also discussed students’ rights to vote on campus. McAulife expressed his support, while noting errors Democrats made regarding voter registration in past elections.
McAuliffe then stressed the importance of his party winning the six seats necessary to gain the majority in Virginia’s House of Delegates.
When asked if he thought Virginia should build a strong Democratic base, he seemed confident the state would be successful.
“I believe it will come down to big ideas,” McAuliffe said. “If the new governor succeeds, that party will win the independent voters.”
McAuliffe approved of the work currently being done by the Democrats in office.
He exppressed support for approved Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine’s work and said that his own views were in sync with those of Kaine.
The focus then shifted to McAuliffe’s own life.
He described his business background and experience in foreign travel as the best preparation for the position of governor.
State Senator Creigh Deeds and former Delegate Brian Moran are also seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
The Democratic Primary will take place June 9, and the gubernatorial election will take place Nov. 3.