The Ken Cuccinelli for Governor campaign launched an emotionally moving television ad on Tuesday that highlighted a little known element of his record as Virginia’s Attorney General, the office he now holds. Titled ‘Justice,’ the one minute commercial tells the story of Thomas Haynesworth, a man wrongly convicted of two rapes, who served 27 years in prison until Cuccinelli personally looked into his case in 2010 and began the difficult legal process that ended in his exoneration and freedom in 2011.
In describing the case when Haynesworth was released in December 2011, even the Washington Post gave Cuccinelli great credit for his role in freeing a man wrongly convicted:
It is the first time the state has issued a “writ of actual innocence” in a rape case without the certainty of DNA evidence. Haynesworth, 46, was supported by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) and two state prosecutors — all of whom concluded that he was mistakenly identified by a rape victim as he walked to a Richmond market for sweet potatoes and bread one February afternoon in 1984.
The question for the campaign, however, is whether this ad is a case of too little too late. In politics, the rule is define or be defined. Cuccinelli’s opponent, Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, has been running a series of attack ads featuring Cuccinelli’s positions on social issues that have driven Cuccinelli’s negatives up and propelled McAuliffe to a six point lead in one recent poll.
With the election now only two months away, the Cuccinelli campaign is hoping that a heavy airplay of this effective and moving television commercial will close the gap for their candidate. Whether or not one good ad will be enough to accomplish that objective remains to be seen.
Here is the full script of the ad:
Ken Cuccinelli: In late 2010, a Democrat Commonwealth’s Attorney told me that he had this case that he though I should take a look at.And he said, “Look, I think this guy might be innocent.”
Thomas Haynesworth: I never thought that the Attorney General himself would be involved in a case like this.
Ken Cuccinelli: After going through all of the evidence, I was convinced that Thomas Haynesworth was innocent. And I took that case on myself.
Thomas Haynesworth: He didn’t have to get involved. But he said an injustice was done and he was trying to correct it.News Anchor #1: Thomas Haynesworth was released from prison this week.
News Anchor #2: Convicted on several rape charges despite his innocence.
News Anchor #3: Spent 27 years behind bars for crimes he did not commit.
Ken Cuccinelli: The Attorney General’s job is not convictions. It’s justice. And today, we got justice.
Thomas Haynesworth: To me, he’s a hell of a guy.