Report: McAuliffe Says as Irish Catholic He Would Be Adept at Taking People Out for Drinks
Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe did not impress the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s political arm, Tech PAC enough to gain their nod. Instead, after interviewing McAuliffe and Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cucinelli, the council threw their support behind the GOP attorney general. The Washington Post reports:
The reasoning behind the NVTC TechPAC’s nod — Cuccinelli had detailed responses to questions in candidate interviews, three board members said, while McAuliffe was uninformed and superficial — bolsters the view that the Democrat’s breezy style doesn’t sit well with some Virginians. Two of the people said they were leaning toward Cuccinelli before the interviews; one disliked both candidates.
The episode also offers a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the high-stakes maneuvering for gubernatorial endorsements. Once the McAuliffe camp’s efforts to reverse the decision became known, Cuccinelli supporters tried to head it off, according to two people directly involved who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a confidential matter.
WaPo details some of the contrasting responses between the two nominees:
TechPAC’s bipartisan board interviewed both candidates Thursday and voted immediately afterward by secret ballot to endorse Cuccinelli.
The endorsement was scheduled to be announced Friday afternoon but was delayed when the McAuliffe camp protested, leading to an intense weekend of lobbying by both sides.
Cuccinelli impressed the board’s majority as a serious, detail-oriented candidate while McAuliffe seemed to wing it, according to three board members present for the interviews who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly.
“Terry was his normal, flamboyant self,” said a board member present for both interviews. “He didn’t want to get pinned down to any details. He didn’t give any details. He was all about jobs, jobs, jobs — ‘I’m just going to take care of the situation when the time comes. I’m just going to do it.’ It was all [expletive].”
Cuccinelli, by contrast, the person said, “was precise. He was thoughtful. He thought through all the issues. He had a clear position on all those issues, and he didn’t agree with the council on all the issues.”
Two people present said that in response to a question about how he’d accomplish his goals as governor, McAuliffe told the PAC board that as an Irish Catholic he’d be adept at taking people out for drinks and doing whatever it takes to get things done. McAuliffe is well known as a schmoozer, but he seemed to badly misread his methodical audience with that answer, several of those present said.
On a question about whether Virginia should stay in something called the “open-trade-secrets pact,” Cuccinelli gave a thoroughly researched response, the person said.
But McAuliffe answered, according to the source: “?‘I don’t know what that is. I’ll have to look it up later.’ And then he turns back to the guy [who asked] and said ‘Well, what do you think we should do?’ And the guy says, ‘We want Virginia to stay in it.’ And then Terry says, ‘Okay, we will.’?”
One member said that not everyone came away from the interviews thinking McAuliffe was blase and Cuccinelli better prepared. That member did not dispute McAuliffe’s drinks comment, but said, “You can take 30 seconds out of a four-hour interview and make anything out of it.”
It appears McAuliffe's habit to dodge tough questions came back to haunt him. In this case, all he had to do was a little homework about the state he is running for governor in. A gaffe like this one may only add to his image of being carpetbagger from Syracuse, New York.