August 13, 2008 – Charlottesville, VA – Tom Perriello, Democratic nominee for Virginia's Fifth Congressional District, was the clear winner in today's Senior Statesmen of Virginia candidates' forum. The forum, which also featured Rep. Virgil Goode, provided an audience of hundreds of concerned citizens the opportunity to ask questions about the most important issues this year. Despite Rep. Goode's refusal to use a fair coin toss to determine speaking order, Perriello earned great applause from the audience as he spoke of his call to service and his record of finding solutions in impossible situations.
"In today's forum, citizens of the fifth district got a clear contrast of the two choices ahead of them in November: more of Congressman Goode's same failed policies that have led to job loss, higher gas prices, and a less secure world, or Tom Perriello's positive agenda and energetic vision for the future. We certainly won over the room, and we believe we can win over the fifth district," said Jessica Barba, communications director for the Perriello campaign.
Perriello showed a strong commitment to ending Washington gridlock on a variety of issues. Here are some key quotations from the candidates:
Perriello: "The issue of energy security is our number one national security threat, our number one environmental threat, and our number one economic opportunity. We need a complete generational commitment to energy independence, and we must be committed to making the 5th District this nation's leader in alternative energy."
"[Goode] has never voted for an energy plan that wouldn't make the gas companies more money. He has $200,000 personally invested in oil and gas companies; he has taken over $100,000 in contributions from Big Energy and Big Oil; and every single one of his votes makes them more money."
On the Iraq War:
Perriello: "This is another area where I have not sat on the sidelines. I've been working since 2006 to ask the right questions. We need people who understand how to fix this war; every single person in Washington has failed on this issue. I will stand up to any Democrat or Republican who continues to fail to push toward peace in Iraq."
Goode: "I don't agree with the premise that the United States has a bad health care system. I also contest 45 million [uninsured] people. There are about 12 to 15 million persons in the country illegally and most of them don't have health insurance. And we can reduce that figure significantly if they weren't in the United States."
Perriello: "Anyone who thinks the healthcare system in America is working is probably on the kind of healthcare that members of Congress get instead of the healthcare that the rest of us get."
Rep. Goode's assertion that a third of the uninsured in America are illegal immigrants is false, according to the National Institute for Health Care Management.
The Perriello campaign has already committed to future debates in Southside Virginia, and hopes the Goode campaign will do the same.