Huckabee tries to fire up base for Cuccinelli

October 19, 2013

LYNCHBURG – Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee urged a crowd at Liberty University Saturday to help Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II make a come-from-behind win in the Virginia governor’s race.

“Don’t let him lose this battle for lack of ammo,” Huckabee told the crowd. “Give. Reach deep into your pockets.”

Lagging in polls and fundraising behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli appeared with the conservative ex-governor at the university founded by the late Rev. Jerry Falwell – an indication that the Republican is concerned about shoring up his base with Election Day a little over two weeks away.

Huckabee praised the attorney general as someone who believes in protecting society’s most vulnerable citizens, saying, “And it doesn’t matter if that human being is a young lady on a college campus, or a homeless person who has no place else to be or a child in the womb of a mother.”

The reference to Cuccinelli’s antiabortion stance drew cheers, though it is not something he has stressed during his campaign. Cuccinelli has instead tried to focus on economic themes, as departing Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) did four years ago with the campaign slogan “Bob’s for Jobs!”

At a rally that drew a couple hundred people to a conference center on the Liberty campus, Huckabee spoke about Cuccinelli’s legal fight against the Affordable Care Act, the federal health-care law known informally as “Obamacare.” He said that Cuccinelli would be more likely than McAuliffe to be moved, as Huckabee was, by the sight of a young mother putting just $5 in gas in her tank, presumably because she didn’t have money to fill up.

“Who do you think, leading Virginia, would understand that girl putting $5 of gas in her car and understand energy policies matter,” Huckabee said.

But Huckabee got his biggest response from the crowd when he shared that his daughter had just recently given birth to his fourth grandchild, a boy who will go by Huck in his honor. He described cradling the newborn in his arms.

“There’s only one person running for governor who sees that baby and knows it’s an absolute gift from God,” Huckabee said.

Cuccinelli made only fleeting references to social issues in his remarks, stating only, “We will defend life. We will defend families.” He stressed his plans to cut taxes and create jobs, reduce the size of government and keep Washington overreach at bay. He accused McAuliffe of waging a “war on coal,” joking that the Democrat has a preference for energy generated by “solar, wind, gerbil wheels.”

He also called McAuliffe untrustworthy , invoking questionable business deals involving electric cars, wood pellets and a recently revealed insurance scheme that allowed McAuliffe to profit from someone’s death.

“A week ago Wednesday, one of President Obama’s prosecutors unveiled an indictment,” Cuccinelli said. “We learned for the first time that Terry McAuliffe along with mobster Poochie Angell — you can’t make this stuff up – was investing in an insurance scam taking advantage of the death of the terminally ill.”

Law-enforcement officials have not accused McAuliffe or any of the other dozens of investors of wrongdoing. McAuliffe has said he was a “passive investor.”

Democratic Party of Virginia spokesman Brian Coy responded in a statement to the Huckabee-Cuccinelli rally: “Rather than focusing his campaign on mainstream issues like jobs and the economy in these final weeks, Ken Cuccinelli is showing Virginia voters his true extreme agenda by welcoming fellow anti-women’s health care Tea Partier Mike Huckabee to the Commonwealth.

“From trying to ban the pill to warning that God will punish America for allowing women to make their own health care decisions, Ken Cuccinelli is the most extreme candidate for governor Virginia women have seen in memory.”

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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