As an indication of how important Virginia could be in the presidential race, representatives for Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama are campaigning across the state and occasionally squaring off in small debates of their own in an effort to drive votes to their candidates.
On Wednesday, the issues were energy policy and protecting the environment in a one hour debate at the University of Richmond, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch
Clean energy advocate Kenneth Berlin, speaking on behalf of the president, told a small crowd that Obama has been trying to encourage the transition to a clean energy economy by providing federal support for projects that don't contribute to global warming.
"We want to give that support and [former Massachusetts] Gov. Romney doesn't," Berlin declared, according to the Time-Dispatch.
But Romney representative Jeffrey Holmstead countered that the Obama administration's energy policy had put the nation in a more difficult position by limiting oil and gas production on federal lands and making it harder to build coal-burning power plants.
"If you protect the economy in the wrong way, you can have a tremendous impact on jobs," said Holmstead, who was an assistant administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency under former President George W. Bush.
Though attendance at the Berlin-Holmstead debate was small compared to the thousands that are turning it out to see the candidates themselves, both campaigns consider every chance to make their case an important opportunity given the closeness of the race.
A new NBC News poll released Thursday shows Romney with a slight 1 percent lead over the president in Virginia.
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