Ken Cuccinelli may have finally found a winning message in his bid for governor of Virginia, and not a moment too soon. With just a day before Virginians head to the polls, Cuccinelli spent Monday morning targeting his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe and other national Democrats for their support for Obamacare.
“I say to Virginia, let’s send them a message and say no tomorrow to Obamacare,” Cuccinelli said to loud applause at an indoor rally in this rural Northern Virginia town 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. Joined by fellow Republican candidates E.W. Jackson (for lieutenant governor) and Mark Obenshain (for attorney general), as well as Florida senator Marco Rubio, a hoarse Cuccinelli argued that the choice for Virginia’s governor would have major consequences with how the federal health care law would be implemented.
“The biggest single budget decision the next governor will make will be to support or oppose the expansion of Obamacare with the Medicaid expansion,” Cuccinelli said. “Terry McAuliffe wants to expand Obamacare even farther. I do not.”
Unlike those areas inside the Capital Beltway, this part of Northern Virginia is Cuccinelli country—literally. He and his wife, Teiro, were married at St. John the Evangelist Catholic church in Warrenton, and the Cuccinelli family lives just a few miles away in Nokesville. “Cuccinelli for Governor” signs line the highway here as in a much higher concentration than they do in the liberal nexus closer to Washington. Out here, you’re more likely to see a megachurch or a barbecue joint than a wine bar or an organic butcher. The folks gathered here booed at the mention of New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose gun-control-focused super PAC has recently spent money on ads critical of Virginia Republicans.
Cuccinelli, who has been trailing McAuliffe in the polls for months, hit a nerve with this conservative crowd as he listed out the problems with the health care law, from the malfunctioning web site to the stories of Americans losing their health insurance as a result of the federal regulations. He reminded those listening that as Virginia's attorney general, he was the first to sue the federal government over Obamacare. Cuccinelli even referenced a report that a Democratic candidate for state delegate in nearby Fairfax County had said she supported forcing doctors to treat all Medicaid and Medicare patients.
“Just this weekend, here in Northern Virginia, we heard the Democrat Kathleen Murphy,” Cuccinelli said. “She didn’t think [Obamacare] went far enough either. She said doctors aren’t taking enough Medicaid and Medicare patients, that it’s time to start looking at forcing them to do it.”
But some of his efforts fell flat, like this clunky attempt at an applause line: “I’m scared to death of what Obamacare is doing to Virginians. Terry McAuliffe is scared to death of what Obamacare is doing to Terry McAuliffe.”
Marco Rubio, a more polished speaker, helped tie the McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats to the national party and Obamacare. “This is the first election in America since the full impact of Obamacare has been felt,” said the Florida Republican. “This is the first chance that people in this country have to speak clearly at the ballot box about the impact this law is having on their lives and on our economy.”
And displaying his potential appeal to new constituencies, the Cuban-American Rubio spoke briefly in Spanish for the benefit of Spanish-language media present at the rally. After finishing, he joked to the English speakers in the audience, “If you want to know what I just said, I just said, ‘I know how you can save a bunch of money on your car insurance, by switching to Geico.” The room burst into laughter.
“And I know how you can save a bunch of money on your health insurance,” Rubio added. “By staying away from Obamacare!”
Rubio, who went on to speak at another rally in Culpeper, is just one of two Republican rock stars to join Cuccinelli and the GOP ticket. Monday evening, former congressman, presidential candidate, and libertarian hero Ron Paul will appear with Cuccinelli in Richmond. McAuliffe, meanwhile, campaigned Monday morning in Annandale with Vice President Joe Biden, and President Barack Obama spoke in Arlington Sunday. Neither Obama nor Biden mentioned Obamacare in their speeches.