VA Debate: McAuliffe Dodges and Shuts Out Media

VA Debate: McAuliffe Dodges and Shuts Out Media

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is amusingly attempting to hide his campaign agenda by dodging and weaving his way around the media by not answering direct questions asked of him at debates and closing off his press shop to various outlets.

During the Virginia’s gubernatorial debate in Mclean on Wednesday night, McAuliffe was asked by NBC moderator Chuck Todd, “You’ve been running for governor for four years, why can’t you give, why can’t you give us a price tag about what you want to–what spending you want to spend?”

“Well, I’ll tell you what I’d like to spend on,” McAuliffe replied and continued on without giving Todd a number. “But I want pre-k, early childhood development. I think that’s very important. I told you what we need to do on teacher pay. We need accountability. I called for a total reform of the SOL’s. They don’t work in their present forms. We don’t have accountability. Our students are being taught to memorize.”

McAuliffe continued to filibuster until Todd interrupted him and asked, “So you don’t have a price tag?”

McAuliffe ignored Todd and went on about wanting to expand Medicaid in the Commonwealth and his belief that it will create thousands of jobs.

“I just want to clarify,” said Todd, “No price tag.”

“It’s a priority,” Mcauliffe replied.

“There’s no cost to it?” asked Todd.

“That’s why it’s important to determine first how much you have, then you can deal with your priorities,” McAuliffe responded.

This is not the first time McAuliffe ignored a moderator’s direct question.  In early August he refused to take a position on a Virginia highway project when asked multiple times for it by WUSA’s Derek McGinty at a political forum.

In addition to McAuliffe’s evasive responses, his campaign staff shields him from outlets they do not want McAuliffe answering questions from. Following the debate on Wednesday, McAuliffe appeared before reporters for a little over five minutes. His handlers blocked him from answering a question from Breitbart News at least two times.

When McAuliffe left the presser, Breitbart News followed him out the door and asked if he would want to impose gun restrictions similar to the regulations that the state legislature in Colorado passed. His press secretary, Josh Schwerwin, blocked McAuliffe from answering.  It should be noted that when Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli arrived for his press availability, he spoke to reporters for a total of 11 minutes and called upon a reporter from the LGBT outlet The Washington Blade.

The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack had a similar experience with McAuliffe and his campaign a few weeks ago, when McAuliffe appeared at George Mason University.  :

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate and frontrunner in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, has been painting his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli as a crusader on social issues. But McAuliffe has repeatedly refused to answer questions from the press about whether he himself holds extreme positions on the issue of abortion.

A camera caught McCormack asking McAuliffe, “Mr. McAuliffe, do you think it’s unfair the way Ken Cuccinelli has characterized your position on that issue–that you support taxpayer-funding of abortion up until the moment of birth? 

McAuliffe would only respond, “It’s a beautiful day out today, huh?”

Earlier in July, McAuliffe’s campaign pulled him away from press following a poor debate performance with Cuccinelli. McAuliffe made a false claim that night regarding  a report relating to Cuccinelli’s failure to disclose gifts from Star Scientific. McAuliffe flippantly said, “If you read the report, which I have done, it says the attorney general should have been prosecuted, but Virginia laws are insufficient.” The Washington Post criticized McAuliffe with “four Pinocchios” for that wrong accusation.

The McAuliffe campaign told Breitbart News last weekend a press availability would happen after he answered questions from moderators at a forum in New Port News at Christopher Newport University. Following the event, his staff canceled his press availability.

The McAuliffe campaign press shop, led by Schwerin and Rachel Thomas, only allows a small select number of mainstream press outlets on to their press list. He refuses to be interviewed by top talk radio outlets in the Washington D.C. / Northern Virginia region and according to reporters at right of center outlets, his press shop does not e-mail back responses to questions very often if ever.  However, the McAuliffe campaign reportedly does not even keep press outlets on its own list notified of upcoming McAuliffe appearances in a timely manner.

According to reporters in this group, the McAuliffe campaign will notify them regarding the whereabouts of McAuliffe at the very last minute. Additionally, the McAuliffe staff even keeps mainstream national outlets in the dark, when it comes to his appearances in local areas around Virginia. 

His campaign will only notify local media in these instances. For example, when Republican Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms endorsed McAuliffe last week, McAuliffe’s usual reporters on his press list were only aware that the endorsement would happen on a particular date. However, no time or place was specified in the e-mail. Local press, though, knew those details.