Youngkin decision to skip AARP Virginia debate forces cancellation

Glenn Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin. Photo: Twitter

AARP Virginia announced today that The People’s Debate, the state’s largest and most widely-broadcast debate sponsored by a nonpartisan organization, has been cancelled for 2021 due to the decision of Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin not to participate.

“Virginia voters are the real losers here,” said AARP Virginia State Director Jim Dau. “AARP Virginia will continue to be active during this election season, providing voters with information they need to cast their ballots, as well as informing them how they can vote safely during the pandemic.”

AARP Virginia has traditionally sponsored The People’s Debate for gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races. It is the only debate broadcast statewide, which addresses the issues that concern voters who aren’t part of a special interest group.

AARP has a long history of providing non-partisan voter education and civic engagement. It does not endorse candidates, make campaign contributions to candidates or parties, or operate a political action committee.

Scheduled for Oct. 12 in Richmond in the studio of broadcast partner WTVR-TV CBS 6, the one-hour statewide television broadcast requires significant lead time to develop. AARP sent invitations to Youngkin and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe following their respective nomination victories.

McAuliffe accepted the invitation. The Youngkin campaign did not include The People’s Debate in the slate of forums in which he would participate.

“This is a missed opportunity for voters to hear about issues important to them and their families, as well as a missed opportunity for the candidates to talk directly to voters,” Dau said.

McAuliffe campaign spokesperson Jake Rubenstein was more direct.

“Another day, and Glenn Youngkin is running and hiding from another debate,” Rubenstein said. “Given his out-of-touch, right-wing economic agenda, it’s no surprise he has refused to debate Terry at the Virginia AARP’s People’s Debate. If Glenn Youngkin has his way, he would slash funding for education and public safety, slow Virginia’s economic growth, and drive the Commonwealth’s economy into the ‘ditch’ he loves to talk about so much.

“Virginians deserve a governor who will invest in the future of our Commonwealth, not tear down the progress we’ve made. It is clear that Glenn Youngkin is incapable of putting Virginians first ahead of his and Donald Trump’s right-wing agenda,” Rubenstein said.

The AARP Bulletin, mailed to every AARP member household monthly, will include in-depth coverage of the 2021 General Election in its October issue.

With approximately 1 million members in Virginia, AARP is the largest organization working on behalf of people age 50+ and their families in the Commonwealth.

To learn more about AARP Virginia, like us on Facebook at and follow @AARPVa on Twitter at

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