Terry McAuliffe, the democratic candidate for Virginia governor, continued to appeal to voters concerned about women’s issues, with a television advertisement released Tuesday that attacks Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli II’s record on contraception.
The ad opens with the image of a ring of birth control pills, as a woman’s voice says: “These are birth control pills. More than half of American women use them at some point in their lives. But Ken Cuccinelli sponsored a bill that could have made common forms of birth control illegal, including the pill.”
The ad points to a so-called “personhood” bill that Cuccinelli co-sponsored in 2007 while a member of the Virginia Senate that would have added a line to the state’s Constitution stating that “life begins at the moment of fertilization.” At the time, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that such legislation could limit women’s access to preventative health care and contraception, including birth control medication.
The ad ends as many McAuliffe campaign ads do, with this refrain: “Why is Ken Cuccinelli interfering in our private lives? He’s focused on his own agenda. Not us.”
The new ad — titled “The Pill” — comes a week after a Washington-Abt SRBI poll showed that McAuliffe has a sizeable lead over Cuccinelli, with the shift coming primarily from female voters who prefer McAuliffe by a 24-point margin. McAuliffe’s campaign has heavily targeted women voters and run ads that attacked Cuccinelli for opposing no-fault divorce and abortion, among other women’s issues.
On the issue of birth control, Cuccinelli said during a July debate that he had never tried to outlaw common forms of birth control but that he will bring his “beliefs about protecting life” to the governor’s race.
Anna Nix, a Cuccinelli campaign spokeswoman, said that the candidate “has made it clear he will not ban contraception, period; yet Terry McAuliffe continues to spread lies demonstrating once again that Virginians can’t trust him.”
Cuccinelli’s campaign has tried to present a softer image of the conservative candidate, who established a sexual assault awareness group in college and played a role in the release of a man wrongly convicted of rape. The campaign recently released ads that feature women talking about Cuccinelli, including a Richmond school board member who says claims that the candidate has “some agenda against women” is “ridiculous.”
McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin has said that such a claim is fair.
“Ken Cuccinelli has spent his entire career trying to interfere in Virginians’ private lives,” Schwerin 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.”