Cuccinelli camp’s new ad spotlights NoVA business group’s hard-fought endorsement

September 19, 2013

Virginia Attorney Ken Cuccinelli II’s campaign for governor rolled out a new television ad Thursday that’s built around the back-alley brawl over his endorsement by a Northern Virginia business group and intended to portray him as more knowledgeable and prepared to govern than his opponent Terry McAuliffe.

The ad picks up on last week’s controversial decision by the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s political arm to endorse Cuccinelli (R) over McAuliffe (D). It also signals an all-out battle in the waning days of the race to win the allegiance of Virginia’s business community in its most populous and economically powerful region.

“For governor, who can you trust to create jobs?” the ad’s narrator asks. “One of Virginia’s most important business PACs says their pick is Ken Cuccinelli.”

Cuccinelli’s new ad says he won endorsement by the NVTC’s TechPAC board because of a solid, detail-oriented performance during closed-door interviews with its members while McAuliffe failed to impress. Several images in the ad depict McAuliffe as a slap-happy partier.

It’s also aimed at a central premise of the Democrat’s campaign: McAuliffe has argued that, as an entrepreneur and businessman, he would be better suited than Cuccinelli to preserve Virginia’s reputation as a welcome state for business. McAuliffe has said that Cuccinelli’s staunchly conservative stance on social issues, such as his opposition to abortion and gay rights, could dissuade multinational corporations and new businesses from locating in the commonwealth.

A recent poll shows the two main-party candidates are locked in a statistical dead heat and not very likable to many Virginians.

In Cuccinelli’s new ad, a narrator intones adjectives taken from those news accounts describing both candidates’ performance during the TechPAC interviews while images show McAuliffe — apparently culled from TV appearances during his days as a Democratic National Committee chairman and top party fundraiser — wearing a Hawaiian shirt, throwing back a shot glass and holding up a liquor bottle.

“These are serious times,” the ad says, cutting to a shot of Cuccinelli. “Virginia deserves a serious governor.”

The ad comes after the NVTC’s wider leadership delayed announcement of Cuccinelli’s endorsement to review the decision but ultimately let it stand. In defending their choice in the face of an intense lobbying campaign by McAuliffe’s Democratic allies, several TechPAC members, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Washington Post that McAuliffe had bombed while Cuccinelli had come off as informed and serious during their interviews.

Among other things, McAuliffe told the TechPAC that, as an Irish Catholic, he would wine and dine people in Richmond to get things done. He also told them that, unlike Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), he would not delve into the details of every piece of litigation but would instead hire others to read bills for him.

On Wednesday, McAuliffe dismissed those remarks from TechPAC members as “political attacks” but did not specifically deny making them. He also denied knowing anything about the intense lobbying campaign by members of the Senate Democratic Caucus, Sen. Mark Warner and others to reconsider the endorsement.

The NVTC also issued a news release distancing itself from its PAC’s endorsement. TechPAC’s announcement explained its reasoning but also declared that Cuccinelli had assured the board that if he was elected, his focus would be on growing the economy.

Here’s the ad and its script:

“For governor who can you trust to create jobs? One of Virginia’s most important business PACs says their pick is Ken Cuccinelli. The Washington Post reports that ‘they found Ken Cuccinelli “precise,” “serious” and “detail-oriented,” while Terry McAuliffe was “uninformed,” “superficial,” “flamboyant,” [with] no details, all [expletive]. These are serious times. Virginia deserves a serious governor.”

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