McAuliffe discusses women's rights with Mason students

McAuliffe lays out his plans for education and women's rights (photo by Jenny Krashin)
McAuliffe lays out his plans for education and women's rights (photo by Jenny Krashin)

Democratic governor candidate Terry McAuliffe spoke to a group of George Mason University students Thursday morning in George’s in the Johnson Center. McAuliffe told students how this upcoming election is important for the future of Virginia.

"This is probably the starkest contrast we have had for two candidates running for governor in the commonwealth of Virginia, if not in the United States of America. This is a big important election"

McAuliffe promised that he will work hard to improve the overall quality of life for Virginians.

"I don't believe in sleep," McAuliffe said. "I say sleep when you're dead. It is much overrated. I love to work and I love to get things going." 

McAuliffe took two questions from the audience, both about women's health rights.

"You have a constitutional right, this has been determined in our nation. It is a constitutional right," McAuliffe said.  "I will be a brick wall to stop any erosion of any constitutional right that every woman has in Virginia."

Citing the bill that required women to get an ultra sound before abortions, junior sociology major Elvira Razzano asked that her rights are protected.

"I'm really passionate about women’s reproductive rights; if we cannot control our own bodies what can we do," Razzani said. "It's one thing to have an opinion, but you cannot manipulate and lie to people."

While most of the students at the event were supportive of McAullife through his talk and backed his platform, senior global affairs major Carolyn Horton was critical of his statements.

"My biggest concern with McAuliffe is that he has a grey area," Horton said. 

Horton believes that McAuliffe's ideas for Virginia are good, but that he does not seem to have specific plans for how he will accomplish all of his promises. 

"Yes, he's not going to sleep. What's he going to do when he's awake?" Horton said. 

According to Horton, McAullife has missing areas in his plan, such as how to support military families through defense cuts. McAullife mentioned transitioning from the defense work force to something else because of defense spending cuts, but did not mention what would happen to military families.

"While I understand [the defense spending cuts], the military families in our state support a lot of the economy," Horton said, who is from a military family. "Quite frankly, I don't know who I am going to vote for at this point."

McAuliffe also addressed higher education and his focus on supporting community colleges and making more financial aid available. 

"Everybody who wants to get a higher education ought to be able to go and ought to be able to afford it. What I do not want as governor is y'all getting out of school with a lot of debt and no job," McAuliffe said, which followed by passionate approval clapping to which he responded. "You can tell the seniors here.  A lot of debt and you're forced to go into a job that you don't want to do but you have to do it to begin to pay your debt back." 

"Go out and do what you want to do," McAuliffe said, specifically to graduating seniors in the audience. "Follow your passions. Don't take some job because the job is there. Do what you enjoy doing. And you may fail at it, but you know what, get upbe the next day and do it again."

McAullife also spoke about his plans to expand transportation, focus on reform of Virginia's Standards of Learning test, raising salaries for teachers, early childhood development, taxes to help education funding and Medicaid.

As for challenges to Virginia's economy such as sequestration,  McAuliffe said it is necessary to grow and diversify to avoid the impact of defense spending cuts. 

"That's the challenge for the next governor, replacing military because, it's going to be cut," McAuliffe “And how do you do private sector jobs; you do it by commercializing the great research that. Have here are George Mason and all of our colleges and universities and taking them out to the market." 

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