The second debate of Virginia’s governor’s race was held last night, and while the top issues of the debate were taxes and the transportation crunch, many people are focusing on the verbal trap set for Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore by debate moderator Tim Russert. Russert asked Kilgore whether he would sign a statewide ban on abortion should a John Roberts-led Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. Kilgore, who is pro-life, refused to answer by saying “that’s a hypothetical question.” Russert followed by asking if Kilgore would sign or veto a tax hike passed by the state legislature, which Kilgore answered by stating he would veto any tax hike not passed by state referendum. The trap sprung, Russert replied, “that’s a hypothetical question!” to guffaws from the audience.
To his credit, Kilgore bravely soldiered on, doing well enough for himself not to damage his 7 point lead in the polls. Furthermore, the debate wasn’t widely televised, as it was only on cable here in NoVA. The perception of bias on the part of Tim Russert should also keep the damage to a minimum. Independent “Republican” Russ Potts was not present at the debate, though Tim Kaine debated him later in the evening at a different event.