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Cuccinelli To Cross Examine Candidates

Ken Cuccinelli

by Valerie Garner

Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, along with two other attorneys general, will cross-examine five of eight Republican presidential primary candidates Saturday, December 3 as part of Fox New’s  90-minute question and answer forum with the candidates beginning at 8:00 p.m. EST.

Governor Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum have all agreed to participate.

In a phone call Monday, Cuccinelli confirmed that Herman Cain, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman have declined the invitation. He expects that will increase the Q & A time with each candidate to 15 minutes.

Others offering questions include Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi and Oklahoma’s Attorney General Scott Pruitt as well as Mike Huckabee who  is hosting the forum. The three attorneys general have been preparing for the event for most of November, exchanging material and talking on the phone. After arriving in New York they will ride together to the Fox News studio.

“We’ll have plenty of tough questions,” said Cuccinelli. “We will focus on the powers of the federal government especially as it relates to states.” Topics will include federal regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Communication Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, health care, education, illegal immigration, the courts and judges and constitutional issues. Medicaid will even be in the mix “not just dollars but everything else that goes along with it,” he said.

When asked about possible vague responses from candidates, Cuccinelli was quick to clarify saying, “part of the deal here is cross-examination.” He added that both he and attorney general Scott Pruitt were disappointed watching previous debates when candidates had given either wrong or incomplete answers that moderators “not versed in the subject matter didn’t know how to follow-up on.”

“We’re going to drill down a couple of layers on these subjects,” said Cuccinelli. He was adamant saying that if they don’t answer the question they might find themselves “cut off.”

The attorneys general won’t be asking the same questions of each candidate. The plan is to ask questions based on statements the candidates have already made. Cuccinelli insisted that they will be fair – none of the attorneys general have endorsed a candidate.

“We are all committed to seeing the current President beaten,” said Cuccinelli. “It’s not enough to say we want to stop this guy … We need to see a constructive alternative.”

Cuccinelli thought that all the candidates had made some constructive proposals in previous debates. They will be looking for not just opposition to the current administration’s policy but they expect to hear the candidates’ solutions. They’ll be pinning them down on federalism by asking the candidates if the federal or state government should handle certain concepts. If they are for limited government then they’ll ask “shouldn’t you let states deal with that issue?”

Cuccinelli said that, “lots of Republicans talk about limited government but a lot of the same Republicans then turn around and try to have the federal government dictate to the states on how to do their business over issues they care about.”

On courts and judges the questioning will be directed toward “viewpoints.” When prompted further he elaborated that presidents tend to appoint people to judgeships that have similar world views to themselves  …  So we’ll flush that out as it relates to judging laws and the constitution.”

Education questions will vary by candidate and revolve around charter schools, No Child Left Behind and other federal programs.

The planned NLRB question was born out of a complaint against the Boeing Aircraft Corporation which is planning to build airplanes at a non-union plant in the right-to-work state of South Carolina – an effort deemed by some to be an attempt to break away from its unionized Seattle plant.

Cuccinelli also expects to ask a question regarding the FCC’s authority to regulate the Internet. “Most recently they have poked their nose in the AT&T and T-Mobile merger,” he said. He explained that the question is whether the FCC should have any significant role on whether the merger should go forward or not. Additionally, he plans on asking under what conditions, if any,  the FCC should block a merger.

There is no doubt that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will also be on the table for discussion.

Cuccinelli used the term “cross-examination” of the candidates multiple times in Monday’s phone interview. This portends a tough no-nonsense line of questions for the candidates. The format will leave flexibility for follow-up questions rather then simply asking a series of questions with responses.

There will be no audience and the candidates will not interact. They will be given one-minute each for final thoughts. Following the conclusion of the candidate forum there will be 30 minutes for analysis that will include the three attorneys general, said Cuccinelli.

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