Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe (D), left, and Ken Cuccinelli II (R) at a debate in McLean, Va., on Sept. 25. (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is stepping up his efforts to showcase his softer side to voters in the Virginia governor’s race, launching a new ad that portrays his record in a compassionate light.

The spot, featuring Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Lisa Caruso, comes as the latest Washington Post/Abt-SRBI poll shows Cuccinelli (R) trailing businessman Terry McAuliffe (D) among likely women voters by 24 points. The survey also shows that 54 percent of women hold an unfavorable view of Cuccinelli.

“As attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli has made it a priority to stand up for the weak and the vulnerable,” Caruso says in the ad. “He’s focused on human trafficking. He’s focused on child pornography. Being a mom of two young girls, that impacts me more, I think, than what he does for me as a prosecutor. Ken Cuccinelli looks out for those who cannot help themselves. He cares about keeping our children safe.”

Cuccinelli frequently mentions the same topics Caruso invokes in his campaign speeches, also emphasizing his work combatting sexual assault when he was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, and his time volunteering at a homeless shelter in Arlington. Those experiences were also invoked by the candidates’s wife, Teiro Cuccinelli, in the first ad of his campaign for governor.

McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin suggested that Cuccinelli’s message efforts would fall flat.

“After spending his entire career on an extreme social agenda trying to make abortion illegal, ban common forms of birth control and refusing to support the Violence Against Women Act, Ken Cuccinelli’s last-ditch effort to whitewash his record will fall flat with voters,” Schwerin said.