Race to Richmond: Terry McAuliffe
Wednesday, May 20, 2009; 3:00 PM
Terry McAuliffe (D), former Democratic National Committee chair, was online Wednesday, May 20, at 3 p.m. ET to discuss his campaign for governor of Virginia.
Terry McAuliffe: Good afternoon! Thanks to the Washington Post for having me here today. Can't wait to take your questions.
Arlington, Va.: Dear Mr. McAuliffe:
Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran have devoted much of their adult lives to public service on behalf of the citizens of the Commonwealth. While you have assisted Democrats nationally in your work for the DNC, what have you done prior to running for governor specifically addressed at helping Virginians?
Terry McAuliffe: Brian and Creigh are both good Democrats and good legislators. I'm running for governor because I think we need to shake things up in Richmond, and I believe my executive experience running businesses and other large organizations can help create jobs here in the Commonwealth.
Specifically to your question: as chairman of the DNC, I invested heavily in Virginia. In 2001, we invested $1.5 million to help Mark Warner and other Virginia Democrats. In 2005, when Tim Kaine ran for governor, we gave $5 million to Virginia Democrats - which, at the time, was the single largest donation from the national party of its kind.
In 2007, I headlined a fundraiser for the House Democratic Caucus to help them pick up seats in the House of Delegates. I think it is critically important we elect like-minded folks to the House of Delegates so that we can do the things we need to bring jobs to Virginia like fixing transportation and investing in education.
Arlington, Va.: Brian Moran keeps saying that he's the "only" candidate to oppose offshore drilling for oil and gas, yet he voted for a bill that would encourage offshore natural gas exploration. What do you have to say about that, and also what's your position on this issue?
Terry McAuliffe: First and foremost, let me say that our priority on energy needs to be on efficiency measures and renewable sources of energy. As governor, that will be my focus. We need to invest in renewable energy and look for opportunities to create green jobs.
In 2006, the Virginia legislature passed SB 262 - with overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans alike - that established the Commonwealth's policy on drilling. SB 262 prohibits drilling for oil and allows for exploratory drilling for natural gas only. The bill was signed into law by Governor Kaine. This is the position I support. I do not support drilling for oil off our coast.
Alexandria, Va.: Brian Moran in the chat earlier today declared himself - a potential governor of the Old Dominion -- as a fan of the Boston Red Sox. Sir, I ask as an undecided Democratic voter, your preference as a baseball fan.
washingtonpost.com: Brian Moran Online Discussion (washingtonpost.com, May 20)
Terry McAuliffe: Honestly, with the limited time I have now, the most baseball I watch -- and my favorite -- is my son Peter's little league games.
Arlington, Va.: One of my concerns about your candidacy is that it will heighten already partisan politics in Virginia due to your national profile and previous political work. Any thoughts about whether that would be true, and, if it is, whether that would be a bad thing?
Terry McAuliffe: I believe that to overcome the economic challenges we face, we've got to work together - that means across party lines and from all corners of the Commonwealth. There's no such thing as a Republican job or a Democratic job. Our next governor needs to bring everyone together to create good jobs. That's what I'm going to do.
I served the Chair of the DNC, but as I think Governor Kaine is demonstrating, that role can be about advocating for what you believe is right - it doesn't have to be about petty partisan politics. I'm always going to fight for what I believe in - good jobs with good benefits, decreasing our reliance on foreign oil and increasing our use of renewable energy, making health care available and affordable, solving our transportation challenges, and giving our kids the best education - but that isn't about partisan politics. That's about getting results and building our future.
I think the focus of my campaign - big ideas and bringing people together - gives you a good indication of what kind of governor I'd be.
Arlington, Va.: What do you plan to do to increase statewide revenue in an adverse economic environment? Can the budget be trimmed any further than it already is to meet all of the state's obligations and stay balanced?
Terry McAuliffe: My plan is to grow the economy by bringing in good jobs with good benefits, particularly in the renewable energy field. I don't think a down economy is the right time to raise taxes. Governor Kaine has had the difficult task over the past two years of cutting Virginia's budget to handle the effects of the national recession. There's not much left to cut, so we have to grow the economy. I have a very detailed business plan to do just that. You can find it on my website at www.terrymcualiffe.com.
Fairfax, Va: What is your stance on the single-term limit of Virginia governors?
Terry McAuliffe: We're the only state in the nation that limits a governor to one four year term -- and I think there are a lot of downsides to that limitation. I support allowing the governor to serve two consecutive terms. I am strong believer in holding our elected officials accountable, and I think that voters should have the opportunity to reelect a governor who is getting results -- like Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.
Alexandria, Va.: As Governor, what will you do to bring green jobs and green jobs training to Virginians?
Terry McAuliffe: This is a great question. We have a lot to offer in Virginia, and we have got to look for ways to expand our existing businesses and attract new ones. Renewable energy is the industry of the future. We need policies that will encourage these companies to come to Virginia - like a mandatory renewable energy standard of 25% by 2025. This standard will create a market for renewable energy, which will attract renewable energy companies, creating thousands of green jobs.
I also believe we should build a wind farm off the coast of Virginia Beach, and we should be building the components right here in Virginia.
We can also use incentives to produce long-term economic growth. In Chapters One and Two of my Business plan for Virginia, I propose establishing a targeted $100 million Virginia Energy Independence Fund to create new investment opportunities and new jobs in industries such as ethanol, wind power, bio-diesel, clean coal and other clean technologies
But we will only be successful in bringing green jobs here if our workforce is ready. We need to make sure our students are prepared for high-skill, high-wage jobs of the future, in the renewable energy field. And, we need to focus on retraining workers whose skills need upgrading. We need to make sure our public schools and community colleges are training our students appropriately for these jobs.
Woodbridge, Va.: Have you driven along I-95 between Richmond and Washington, D.C.? What do you plan to do about this eternally clogged, yet essential, artery?
Terry McAuliffe: Yeah -- recently I've driven it about four times a week! Sunday, it took me three hours to get from Richmond back up to Northern Virginia.
I think to solve our traffic challenges we need to do things differently -- like getting more cars off the road. That's why I've pledged to make establishing high speed rail in the I-95 corridor a priority, as governor. When completed, the Virginia portion of this corridor would take an estimate 1.1 million cars per year off Virginia roads, save 5.6 million gallons of gas per year, and save 33,000 tons per year in carbon dioxide emissions.
Arlington, Va.: If you are elected governor, will you support the widening of Route 66 through Arlington County?
Terry McAuliffe: I'm open to widening it, but only if it is kept within the existing footprint.
"Fake Virginia": I moved to NoVa almost ten years ago. I'm no expert, but I do consider myself more well-informed on state political issues than most people. I've even volunteered for Democratic candidates for state office. And yet I've never heard your name in the context of state politics. Why should I consider voting for you over others who have been more heavily involved in state issues over the years?
And if someone who was born in 'Ohio' thinks of you as a carpetbagger, how exactly do you think you can win over downstate swing voters? Or do you think you can do it all with the money?
Terry McAuliffe: I'm running for governor because I don't think that all good ideas come from Richmond. They come from all corners of the Commonwealth.
One of the strengths that I bring is that I haven't been part of all of the partisan battles -- I bring a fresh approach. Like Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, I come from a business/executive background, and I have the experience we need now to grow our economy. I'm the only candidate in this race who has created thousands of jobs.
Too many people in the legislature focus on how to get through only the next month, the next year - or, sadly, the next election. I believe we need to think bigger. We need to think more imaginatively about how to make our Commonwealth run better. And instead of compartmentalizing our thinking - developing separate plans for "jobs," "schools," "health" or "the environment" - we need a comprehensive business plan for the Commonwealth that approaches all these issues as inter-related. You can check it out at my website at www.terrymcauliffe.com.
I'm currently the only candidate who's competing in every part of the Commonwealth. We've got 14 offices set up and over 40 field organizers. And if I'm the nominee, I'll go toe-to-toe with Bob McDonnell in Southwest, Southside, the Shenandoah Valley, and everywhere in between. I'll also fight harder than anyone to make sure we elect like-minded partners in the House of Delegates.
Burke, Va.: I have a daughter age of 7. With her in mind, it troubles me that we cannot guarantee our children will have clean air and water in the most prosperous county in the country. How can we remediate this problem which crosses geographic boundaries?
Terry McAuliffe: In Chapter One of my Business Plan for Virginia, I lay out a very aggressive approach to energy and environmental issues that will move us away from fossil fuels into clean, renewable energy.
With over 47,000 farms, Virginia generates a substantial amount of animal waste each year, which can end up in our rivers and streams. One way to help clean our waterways and reduce greenhouse gases is to make it easier for farmers to turn that waste into energy.
That's also why I'm so serious about getting a mandatory renewable energy standard of 25% by 2025.
Richmond, Va.: As a college student, I find myself steadily inundated with increases in tuition and administrative fees. College is becoming increasingly unaffordable, even for those of us eligible for in-state tuition. How, specifically, do you plan to aid students in their pursuit of higher education?
Terry McAuliffe: Great question.
To help make college more affordable, I've proposed creating a "Scholars for Service" loan forgiveness program, which would forgive student loans for Virginians who commit to working in underrepresented professions, in high-need areas of the Commonwealth.
We can also help Virginia's universities lower tuition costs by helping them better commercialize the research they conduct. My plan would require that 50 percent of the money leveraged from the commercialization of university-based breakthroughs go to lowering tuition costs.
Arlington: Standard job interviewing questions: Why do you want this job? What strengths do you bring from your past experience? Where do you think you will struggle the most?
Terry McAuliffe: I want to be Governor because I want to help people.
I think the tough economic times call for someone with the right experience who can make a difference, and I think I have what it takes to get our economy moving again. I've always taken on tough challenges in my life, and I think this is a worthwhile fight.
I started my first business at age 14, and I was elected one of the youngest bank chairmen at age 30. I've had decades of experience starting businesses, growing them, and turning struggling institutions around.
As for struggle in the job -- I always say that the biggest struggle for me as governor will be that there's so much I want to get done, and four years just isn't very long!
Culpepper, Va.: In your travels around Virginia, what have you found to be the most important issues in each region of the state (Northern Virginia, Tidewater, Richmond, and Rural to make things simple)? How would address the problems in each area when the legislature is apt to disproportionally spread out funding?
Terry McAuliffe: No matter where I go in the Commonwealth, everyone is worried about the economy. Whether it is facing high unemployment or worrying about dwindling retirement funds, Virginians are nervous about the future.
But everywhere I go, people are ready to pull together to get our economy back on track.
We're blessed with a very diverse state that does have some different needs in each region. Just as I have reached out to voters across the Commonwealth to bring them into my campaign, as governor, I would include people from every region in solving our challenges. If we're going to build the best future for Virginia, we've got to do it together.
Terry McAuliffe: Looks like I'm about out of time. Thank you so much for joining me today. I had a blast! Hope to see you all out on the campaign trail. Don't forget to vote on June 9th -- and check out my website at www.terrymcauliffe.com.
Editor's Note: washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions. washingtonpost.com is not responsible for any content posted by third parties.