Correction to This Article
The article about the business background of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terence R. McAuliffe incorrectly said that McAuliffe described himself as a huckster in his autobiography. McAuliffe described himself as a hustler in the book.
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Va. Candidate McAuliffe Has History of Mixing Business, Politics

Terry McAuliffe's background as one of the most prolific fundraisers the Democratic Party has ever seen could prove to be a liability in his run to be governor of Virginia.

McAuliffe then claimed that his home-building company built 1,300 homes at its peak, but an adviser later clarified that the figure was closer to 800. And at a candidates' forum in December, in response to Moran's claim to be the only candidate who had run a business and raised a family in Virginia, McAuliffe boasted of launching five businesses in Virginia.

It turned out that all five are investment partnerships, with no employees, registered to his home address in McLean.

In the end, what voters think of McAuliffe's history of mixing business with politics may prove less important than whether he presents the best vision to pull Virginia out of the recession, said Holsworth, the political scientist.

That's probably why McAuliffe is embracing that history on the campaign trail, rather than running away from it. In front of business leaders in Northern Virginia, McAuliffe practically shouted to the room that his political relationships would only enhance his ability to attract jobs.

"I'm going to call Barack Obama every day!" he yelled, to laughter and a few rolling eyes.

And just imagine, McAuliffe said at a recent forum on Virginia's film industry at George Mason University, if he practiced in the governor's office the same art of the deal that made him rich.

After listening to Ron Newcomb, a young independent filmmaker from Woodbridge, describe the challenges of attracting investors to Virginia, McAuliffe didn't hesitate.

"When I'm governor, I'll be pitching for you. How's that?" he said.

Newcomb liked what he heard.

But will voters feel the same? Somewhere between the rolling eyes and the admiration for McAuliffe's success lies the answer.

Staff researcher Meg Smith and staff writers Debbie Cenziper and Sandhya Somashekhar contributed to this report.

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