Former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder said Thursday that a tweet sent out under his name that appeared to be endorsing the GOP ticket was nothing of the kind.
“I’m not endorsing anybody,” Wilder said in an interview Thursday.
The tweet said that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II – a former intern of Wilder’s who is running for governor – and his GOP running mates “aim to maintain and foster a ‘Commonwealth of Opportunity.’ ”
Wilder said an aide sent out the tweet, which has since been deleted. It can be found here on the conservative blog Bearing Drift.
Wilder, 82, who became the first elected black governor in U.S. history, is known for being unpredictable about endorsements. In 2009, he withheld his endorsement from a fellow Democrat, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, despite White House pressure, because of Deeds’s stance on guns and taxes. The decision was a blow to Deeds, who struggled to win African American votes. The race went to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).
Wilder said Thursday he hasn’t made up his mind about anyone yet in this year’s contest. As candidates from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe to Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson troop by seeking his advice or blessing, Wilder shared some thoughts about the field, beginning with McAuliffe.
“He has got to get gravitas. He’s got to have convictions, to show that his election means something real, something tangible,” Wilder said.
As for Jackson, Wilder said the Chesapeake minister paid a visit a couple months ago. They talked about the potential for Jackson to make history as only the second black candidate nominated by Virginia Republicans for statewide office since Maurice A. Dawkins ran for the U.S. Senate in 1988.
Wilder said that although Jackson’s opposition to abortion and homosexuality may be heartfelt and guided by religious faith, he should tone down inflammatory rhetoric that demonizes many of the people he hopes to represent.
Jackson’s statement that Planned Parenthood has been more destructive to African Americans than the Ku Klux Klan trivializes the KKK’s persecution of blacks, Wilder said.
“It’s so absurd,” Wilder said — though he added that he also understands why Jackson and other African American opponents of abortion express alarm about the disproportionate abortion rate among blacks.
“He can make that case. But that’s a matter of personal belief,” Wilder said. “That’s fine in the pulpit. That’s fine in the street as it relates to your opinion.”