“He was known to insiders as a Pat Robertson conservative, but he didn’t spend his time pursuing those issues,” Kidd said. “The problem for Cuccinelli is that the shining objects get the attention, and the shining objects are abortion, gay marriage, gay rights and immigration. I don’t think he has the ideological interest to avoid making those things central to what his campaign is about.”
David Lampo, a leader of Virginia’s Log Cabin Republicans, an organization representing gay men and lesbians, said the group supported McDonnell despite his not having a “particularly good record on gay rights.”
Why? Lampo said it was because McDonnell made a “strong pitch” about nondiscrimination policies for state workers. Lampo said his group views Cuccinelli as “a disaster waiting to happen and exactly the wrong face for the Republican Party when it’s trying to change its image.”
As attorney general, Cuccinelli, who opposes abortion, inflamed Democrats when he told state health officials that they could not exempt existing abortion clinics from rules requiring them to operate more like hospitals. He prompted criticism when he informed state universities that sexual preference could not be a basis for banning discrimination. He questioned the legitimacy of a former University of Virginia professor who researches global warming.
Yet, on his campaign’s Web site, Cuccinelli is not nearly so pugnacious. Under the heading “About Ken,” his campaign touts him as having “become best known for his efforts to preserve liberty and defend the U.S. Constitution.”
At a fundraiser in March, the candidate reminded the audience that he was “the same Ken Cuccinelli” even as he was “concentrating on economic issues,” recalled Del. Robert G. Marshall (R-Prince William), a conservative who supports Cuccinelli.
“If he hadn’t said that, he may have left people with, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Marshall said.
“You can be quiet at times, but you have to be convincingly quiet that you’re not switching positions,” Marshall said. “If he does anything to compromise himself, he’s sunk. It’s a tight rope he has to walk.”