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McAuliffe, Youngkin Clash Over Abortion, COVID In 1st Debate

2021 Governor Debate at ASL
Steve Helber
Democratic gubernatorial candidate former Governor Terry McAuliffe, left, greets Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, at the start of a debate at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin clashed over abortion and vaccination policies in Virginia’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election season.

Each sought to cast the other as extreme on major issues Thursday.

The race is being closely watched as a possible indicator of national voter sentiment.

Asked his position on President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates, Youngkin called himself a strong advocate for the COVID-19 vaccines but said he thought the president lacked the authority to “dictate” that workers receive one.

McAuliffe criticized Youngkin as failing to show leadership, saying the Republican has undermined vaccine efforts and would unleash the virus by not mandating inoculations.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.