Henrico Congressman Eric Cantor is one of the most powerful politicians in America, but in order to keep his job he still needs to win an election in November. Monday night he met face-to-face with the man hoping to keep him from going back to Washington.
This is Wayne Powell's first time running for political office and he had a national audience. The debate was broadcast live on CSPAN2. He had one hour to make the case that Cantor's time in congress should be over.
"You are the leader in the Congress," Powell said to Cantor. "You've got to do these things and you're not."
Powell looked for every opening to attack the six-term Henrico congressman. From campaign donations to Washington gridlock and what he called Cantor's inequitable support for big companies.
"He never talks about working people," he said. "He only talks about businesses."
Despite Powell getting animated and even fiery at times, Cantor remained cool. He rarely stopped smiling and never strayed far from his key talking points.
"It's paid for by working people," Cantor said during a long explanation on taxes. "That's why these taxes are no good and Obamacare has to go."
And while Powell continued to drive home his points, Cantor deflected, rarely addressing them in specifics, instead calling it dirty politics.
"And the thing is none of these negative attacks do anything to create a job," Cantor said.
Powell hung tough and argued that he was just giving the voters of the 7th district a true sense of who their Congressman really is.
"I'm not attacking you. I'm describing you," he said. "And it is a difficult process."
Cantor honed in on his campaign's central focus, jobs and the economy.
"This election is about who is best fit to lead, to create an environment where we can see more economic activity, more business growth and more jobs," he said.
This will be the last time the two debate, although afterward Powell was pushing for more.
Now it will be up to the campaigns to make the final case.
Powell has raised roughly $700,000. Cantor has raised more than $6 million, so far.
It will be a sprint to the finish, with a little more than month left before Election Day.
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