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.
Following a recent campaign event at George Mason University, McAuliffe was asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD if he supports any limit on abortion at any point in pregnancy, or if he in fact supports taxpayer-funded and late-term abortions, as Ken Cuccinelli claimed during the first debate.
McAuliffe replied by talking about the weather:
TWS: 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: It's a beautiful day out today, huh?
A campaign tracker posted video of the exchange here.
McAuliffe has also refused to tell mainstream news outlets if he holds extreme positions on the issue of abortion.
In March, Susan B. Anthony List president Marjorie Dannenfelser alleged that "Terry McAuliffe supports a platform of abortion on-demand at any time, for any reason, paid for by Virginia taxpayers. That means he supports a platform of sex-selective abortion, late-term abortion, partial-birth abortion, and abortions on teenage girls without parental consent – all paid for by Virginia tax payers. In sync with the extreme abortion lobby, he is utterly out of step with Virginia taxpayers.”
The Washington Post's Laura Vozzella reported that "McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin declined to say whether Dannenfelser had accurately represented McAuliffe’s position on abortion."
It's not clear how much of an impact social issues have had on the Virginia governor's race. In 2009, Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds tried to put the abortion issue at the center of his campaign against Bob McDonnell and ended up losing by 18 points.
In 2013, the top story in Virginia politics has been a scandal involving sitting Republican governor Bob McDonnell's acceptance of $150,000 in gifts from businessman Johnnie Williams. Both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli have been trying to paint each other as a crook, but McAuliffe has had a much easier time getting the message across to voters. Compare this this straightforward McAuliffe ad to this Cuccinelli ad, which is couched in uncertain terms ("possible visa-for-sale scheme with potential national security implications").
But it's clear McAuliffe is making social issues a big part, if not the biggest part, of his campaign. Shouldn't he have to tell voters where he stands on those issues?
Wouldn't the media hold Ken Cuccinelli's feet to the fire if he refused to tell the Washington Post his position on abortion? Can you imagine the outrage in the press if Cuccinelli responded to a question about abortion in extreme circumstances by talking about the weather?