Planned Parenthood Votes has spent more than $1 million on television and radio ads that will soon air in the Norfolk and Richmond areas, telling women that they should not trust Ken Cuccinelli II, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor.
Planned Parenthood’s various political advocacy groups have been heavily involved in the Virginia race for more than eight months, pushing a campaign dubbed “Keep Ken Out” and endorsing the Democratic candidate, Terry McAuliffe. Women’s issues, especially those related to abortion, have dominated campaign commercials and debates.
Planned Parenthood Votes plans to release its television ad on Wednesday. It will hit airwaves in the Richmond and Norfolk areas later this week. The ad warns voters about Cuccinelli’s stances or actions that the group considers dangerous to women’s health, including limiting access to birth control, opposing emergency contraception and banning abortions.
The ad opens by pointing out the hundreds of decisions that women make each day, from picking groceries to buying homes.
“And we make them ourselves,” says the narrator, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Votes. “But Ken Cuccinelli is intruding on our most personal decisions.”
Richards lists off some of Cuccinelli’s stances, including his call for a ban on all abortions, “even when a woman’s health is in danger.”
“Cuccinelli doesn’t trust women,” Richards says at the end of the ad. “So how can we trust him to be governor?”
Cuccinelli’s campaign has said that the candidate would not ban contraception. And while Cuccinelli opposes nearly all abortions, including those for pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest, he would make an exception to save a mother’s life. The campaign referred questions about Planned Parenthood Votes’s ad to the Republican Party of Virginia.
“Planned Parenthood is one of many organizations on the left helping Terry McAuliffe wage the most negative campaign in Virginia history,” said Garren Shipley, Republican Party of Virginia communications director. “The claims made by Planned Parenthood on McAuliffe’s behalf have been called misleading and false by a number of different fact checking organizations.”
Female voters will likely play a substantial role in deciding the Commonwealth’s next governor. A recent Washington-Abt SRBI poll showed that McAuliffe has a sizable lead over Cuccinelli, with the gain coming primarily from female voters who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin. That gender gap was not present during a May poll.
“Ken Cuccinelli has spent his entire career trying to interfere in Virginians’ private lives,” Josh Schwerin, a McAuliffe spokesman, said in a statement Tuesday. “Virginians can surely expect that as governor, Cuccinelli would abuse his power and attempt to impose his personal extreme ideology on all Virginia families.”
Earlier this week, both campaigns released television ads that seem to target women. The McAuliffe campaign focused on birth control pills, stating that “Cuccinelli sponsored a bill that could have made common forms of birth control illegal, including the pill.” Cuccinelli’s campaign launched two ads that feature women, including a Richmond school board member who says claims that the candidate has “some agenda against women” is “ridiculous.”
But Cuccinelli’s stances are some of the most “extreme” that activists have seen in a major race in many years, Richards said in an interview last week. And the organization sees that as a threat they must confront to protect the women of Virginia.
“He would be very dangerous as a governor in a moderate state,” Richards said. “He’s very extreme, and the women of Virginia are starting to pay attention.”