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Cuccinellli rejects criticism tying him to Mitt Romney’s ‘47 percent’ comment

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RICHMOND — Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he is not writing off any Virginia voters.

The Republican gubernatorial hopeful rejected criticism that passages in his forthcoming book sound like a version of Mitt Romney’s remarks about the “47 percent.”

“There isn’t a single vote in Virginia that I’m not going after,” Cuccinelli said in a brief interview after speaking to a conference of county and city officials in Richmond on Thursday.

“So my percent is zero percent. That’s my percent,” he said after addressing the Virginia municipal League and Virginia Association of Counties.

In “The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty,” to hit stores on Feb. 12, the outspoken conservative Cuccinelli uses language similar to Romney’s “47 percent” comment. Presidential contender Romney, who lost the commonwealth to President Obama in November, suggested during the campaign that a share of the voting public was so dependent on government programs that it would never vote for him.

In his book, Cuccinelli argues against some politicians “increase their power by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as Medicare, Social Security, and outright welfare (Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing, and the like). These programs make people dependent on government.”

Virginia Democrats on Thursday said they were not surprised by Cuccinelli’s views on government programs insofar as he has stated them so plainly as he embarks on a campaign for governor.

“It’s very brazen,” Del. Charniele Herring (D-Alexandria), chairwoman of the state Democratic party. “It’s very insulting to Virginia.”

Herring, who experienced homelessness as a child, added: “I’ve benefited from government programs. It’s sad. I feel like it’s hatred toward people who need government programs to survive.”

Del. Mark D. Sickles (D-Fairfax) said after the fertilizer plant where his grandfather worked went under, taking his pension with it, his grandparents relied on Social Security.

“They would not have survived without it,” Sickles said. “It’s insulting to have politicians come and make claims that these people are living off other people and not off the sweat of their own brow.”

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