11:05 - Welcome begins. Everyone scrambles to their seats. Maureen McDonnell was just behind us ... hope my photo of her turns out.
Full room, good crowd, and the media seats are full. Familiar faces from the SWAC area have stopped by the media table to say hello.
Candidates are now being introduced ... Creigh Deeds first to cheers, then Bob McDonnell to a resounding cheer that went up in the room. If that is accurate, McDonnell has the room which is interesting considering we are in Deeds' back yard.
Audience is now being admonished to follow the rules (chuckles). Rules are now being explained.
Live audience and online audience are following the debate. This is the most media-savvy debate I've seen for this event with mainsteam media as well as new media represented. Twittering, Facebook, blogging, and live-streaming are all being used.
Demonstrations of approval (applause and cheers) are not allowed. Candidates do not know the questions or subject matter ahead of time.
Bob McDonnell is leading off with an opening statement, emphasizing he hopes this is the first of 10 debates around the state. Jobs, pocketbook issues are important to Virginians. Leadership, vision, and proposals of how to move the economy forward are needed at this time in Virginia. His visit yesterday at MeadWestvaco (see earlier post for video) emphasized his disapproval of cap-and-trade that will be a job killer. Transportation funding, college tuition, education ... challenges to Virginians.
Business leader, military background, attorney general experience ... those are his leadership abilities to be Governor.
Deeds now opening....