Cuccinelli Speaks to Politics Class at UVA

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Hundreds of students at the University of Virginia had a rare opportunity Wednesday: a chance to talk politics with a fellow Hoo, who also happens to be Virginia's attorney general.

There was a warm welcome for attorney general and gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli as he spoke to more than 400 students in Larry Sabato's Introduction to American Politics class on Wednesday. 

"Traditionally, we have the candidates in so that the students have the opportunity to evaluate them themselves," said Larry Sabato, who's also the director for the UVA Center for Politics.

It was a homecoming of sorts as Cuccinelli returned to his alma mater. But while some consider the republican nominee pretty conservative, some of his answers may surprise critics.

Along with giving students a general idea of his job responsibilities, it was also a chance to hear what was on the minds of young people.

"I thought he did a really good job of outlining the attorney general's office for a lot of people who may not be too well informed about its role, especially since there are so many people who are not Virginians," said UVA student Elizabeth Hilbert.

The topics of questions ranged from his forthcoming book, "The Last Line of Defense," to the Electoral College to the possibility of marijuana legislation in Virginia.  The gubernatorial nominee's response was less predictable. Cuccinelli said he's not against states experimenting with what places like Colorado and Washington have done, calling it a learning opportunity for other places.

"I was surprised he went as far as he did. Frankly if people hear that whole answer, it may change his image somewhat. It was not stick-in-the-mud, that's for sure. It was suggestive of a willingness to change marijuana policies in Virginia eventually," Sabato said.

Sabato says Virginia has the most interesting governor's race in the country but says a strong independent candidate could shake things up.

"The race as a whole is very contentious, but it also is more up in the air than these contests usually are at this point," he said.

The front-runner for the democratic nomination, Terry McAuliffe, is scheduled to speak with the class later this semester.