Democrat Terry McAuliffe Scrambles to Course Correct After Parents Comment: ‘My Words’ Taken ‘Out of Context’

NORFOLK, VA - OCTOBER 17: Terry McAuliffe at the Souls to the Polls rally supporting Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe on October 17, 2021 in Norfolk, Virginia. Virginia will hold gubernatorial and local elections on November 2. Credit: mpi34/MediaPunch /IPX
mpi34/MediaPunch /IPX via AP

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who is running for governor again, released an ad this week clarifying that he has “always valued the concerns of parents” after he was hit with a tsunami of backlash for a comment he made about parents’ role in education in the last gubernatorial debate.

The new ad features photos of McAuliffe and his family as McAuliffe emphasizes the importance of parents in schools, a message that comes after McAuliffe said during the debate September 28, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

McAuliffe’s debate comment was met with a barrage of criticism, several op-eds from media outlets and interrogations from reporters, and fresh attacks from his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, who seized on the moment and launched a “Parents Matter” initiative to amplify the two candidates’ contrasting positions on education policy.

In McAuliffe’s new ad, shared by the Virginia Scope, McAuliffe says, “As parents, Dorothy and I have always been involved in our kids’ education. We know good schools depend on involved parents. That’s why I want you to hear this from me. Glenn Youngkin’s taking my words out of context. I’ve always valued the concerns of parents”:

The ad represents a shift in messaging for McAuliffe, who has otherwise been focusing largely on tying Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, painting Youngkin as extreme for his pro-life stance, and highlighting his support for coronavirus vaccine mandates versus Youngkin’s rejection of mandates.

Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement that McAuliffe’s new ad signals he is “struggling to save his campaign” as polling indicates the candidates are in a dead heat with the November 2 Election Day quickly approaching.

“Two weeks before Election Day, Terry McAuliffe is struggling to save his campaign,” Porter said. “After 3 weeks of confirming more than half a dozen times that he meant exactly what he said in the debate, McAuliffe has been ordered by panicked DC Democrats to stop spouting anti-parent screeds.”

Porter added that McAuliffe’s “attempt to fool Virginians is pathetic, and parents know the truth because the videos don’t lie.”

Youngkin’s campaign also released a video of McAuliffe repeatedly doubling down on his controversial debate remark:

The most recent poll for the race, released by the Trafalgar Group, asked respondents specifically about McAuliffe’s comment. A plurality, or 45.7 percent, said they strongly disagreed with McAuliffe, while 19.9 percent said they strongly agreed.

Write to Ashley Oliver at


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