WASHINGTON — The contrast between the candidates could hardly be greater, but the distance between the two of them is narrowing.
State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has closed to within four points of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe in the race for governor of Virginia.
While McAuliffe now leads by a margin of 45 percent to 41 percent, in that same Quinnipiac poll a week ago, his lead was seven points.
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The election is on Nov. 5 and some late-arriving cavalry is now riding to help Cuccinelli.
Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis., will campaign for the Virginian at two rallies on Saturday. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will appear with the candidate twice on Monday. And, perhaps most significantly, libertarian icon and former Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, will campaign with Cuccinelli on Monday.
Paul's endorsement could be especially helpful because the libertarian candidate in the race, Robert Sarvis, has polled at 10 percent, and analysts believe he has siphoned off support from Cuccinelli.
Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., campaigned for the attorney general on Oct. 28, during the week in which Cuccinelli began to close the polling gap.
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Cuccinelli will need all the help he can get.
And now, McAuliffe is calling in his big guns.
President Obama will campaign for McAuliffe on Sunday, Vice President Biden will stump for him Monday and First Lady Michelle Obama has recorded an ad for the candidate.
This is a governor's race which could have national implications.
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McAuliffe is the ultimate Clinton insider, with a long personal and political relationship with the couple, including serving as co-chairman of President Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign.
Both Bill and Hilary have campaigned for him.
McAuliffe's game plan could be a preview of what to expect nationally in 2016, and the Democrat has waged a relentless campaign accusing Cuccinelli of a war on women.
Here is a look at where the candidates stand on the issues.
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During their third and final debate on Oct. 24, McAuliffe accused Cuccinelli of pursuing "a social ideological agenda" so extreme, that he even wanted to outlaw birth-control pills.
"He has pushed personhood legislation which would outlaw most forms of contraception, would make the pill illegal in Virginia," accused McAuliffe.
He also criticized Ken Cuccinelli for not backing the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, saying, "It's just one more issue where he is way outside the mainstream."
The attorney general flatly denies McAuliffe's accusation that he wants to outlaw the pill, saying he does not "think government should be doing anything about birth control."
“I have a flat position: I’m not touching contraception while I’m governor,” the candidate told The Washington Post.
Cuccinelli said he does not sign letters endorsing legislation, such as the Violence Against Women Act, because the bills can be amended after he endorses them.
The attorney general also said he has a history of protecting women, forming a student group to prevent sexual assault and lobbying the University of Virginia to hire a full-time sexual assault education coordinator, after a friend was sexually assaulted when he was a student there.
During a debate, he added, "We run multiple domestic violence programs in the Attorney General’s Office. And we started from scratch fighting human trafficking."
McAuliffe is pro-abortion, a position he considers to be pro-women.
Indeed, he emphasizes the rights of the mother over the rights of the child, stating in his website, "I strongly believe that women should be able to make their own healthcare decisions without interference from Washington or Richmond."
The Washington Post reported that Planned Parenthood planned to spend more than $1 million on television and radio ads "suggesting that women can’t trust Cuccinelli."
During the third debate at Virginia Tech, McAuliffe pledged to never compromise his support of abortion.
In the second debate, McAuliffe said the attorney general "bullied the Board of Health" to shut down women’s health centers, otherwise known as abortion clinics.
The Washington Post reports McAuliffe would likely "use his executive powers to keep open the state’s 18 abortion clinics."
McAuliffe pledged to be a “brick wall” against regulations on abortion clinics and, according to Towwnhall, hopes "to exempt existing abortion clinics from having to comply with the health and safety standards approved by the General Assembly and the Virginia Board of Health."
Cuccinelli is pro-life. He opposes abortion, except when it’s necessary to save a mother’s life.
"I believe that all human life is precious, which is why I am a strong supporter of life," he said.
"As a member of the state Senate, I worked to promote a culture of life in Virginia by working to end the gruesome procedure known as “partial-birth” abortion, advance parental consent, and improve health and safety standards to protect women’s health in abortion facilities across the Commonwealth," he wrote in his website.
The Washington Post reports an "independent group Women for Ken declares on its Web site that the GOP candidate 'has a proven record of fighting to protect and to advance Virginia women and families.'”
Susan B. Anthony List President and Chairman Marjorie Dannenfelser told WND, “The banner issue for him (on abortion) is trying to apply basic safety standards and accepted medical standards to abortion facilities across the state. That just means cleanliness, making sure that there is emergency equipment to help women in distress.”
“Cuccinelli did a very good job of ushering in this legislation to get those places cleaned up, to provide some standards that are at least up to a dental office standard. That would be the thing that most people know about his record, and it’s one of integrity,” said Dannenfelser.
Falls Church Healthcare filed a Petition for Administrative Appeal in Arlington County Circuit Court against the Virginia Board of Health challenging the regulations and seeking an injunction to bar their enforcement.
The Falls Church Healthcare Center’s lawsuit was opposed by the Virginia Board of Health and Attorney General Cuccinelli.
Falls Church Healthcare underwent a licensing inspection in August of last year after Virginia enacted new safety regulations for abortion clinics.
The inspection report, obtained by Operation Rescue, listed 63 pages of deficiencies that required correction, including:
• Bloody, reused vacutainer holders
• Dried blood on leg support of procedure table
• Bloody door and wall outside procedure room
• Cloth leg covers reused for multiple patients
• Dirty recovery recliners
• Improperly washed linens that could spread infection
• Contamination of pathology containers with blood from physician’s gloves
• Undated, open vials of medication
• No emergency “incident tray” in one procedure room
• Expired supplies, including an emergency IV line that expired in 2003
• Failure to maintain equipment
• No process for STD screening and reporting
• No policy for reporting patient deaths
McAuliffe supports an “assault weapons” ban, expanded background checks and limits on high-capacity magazines.
Despite being a hunter, he received a grade of “F” from the National Rifle Association.
“I don’t care what grade I got from the NRA,” McAuliffe said. “I never want to see another Newtown or Aurora or Virginia Tech ever again.”
Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth told Politico,“He is obviously betting that the political landscape of Virginia has been altered dramatically over the past decade.”
Politico speculated that a McAuliffe win would be a high-profile “win” for gun-control groups, especially after two Colorado legislators were recalled over their support for gun control.
Gun-control proponent, and New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has invested $1.2 million of his own money in the Virginia race, buying television ads through his super PAC.
Cuccinelli is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights.
“I’m an A-rated NRA candidate,” he said during the final debate.
Cuccinelli opposes all the gun-control measures his opponent supports.
He says improved treatment for mental illness is the key to combating gun violence.
“The tragedy at Virginia Tech led us to look at a lot of things. And for those of you who know me, you know that I have been deeply involved in working with people suffering from mental illness for years,” he said during the debate.
He added that he believed Virginia had become become the number one state, per capita, in screening out people with mental illness from gun purchases and prosecuting people who attempt to buy guns illegally.
Also during the debate, Cuccinelli said Bloomberg’s ads “falsely claim” that more gun laws will stop violence.
McAuliffe supports same-sex marriage, saying, “[I]f we can get a bill through the general assembly and on my desk as governor, I’d sign it.”
During a debate, McAuliffe said of Cuccinelli, “He’s referred to gay Virginians as ‘self-destructive and soulless human beings,’”picking up on a phrase widely circulated in the gay press.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2013/10/this-state-could-be-a-preview-of-2016/#ySB86TkUr8TZYVRt.99
Mcauliffe also accused the attorney general of sending "a letter to every college and university saying they could provide no protections against discrimination based upon sexual orientation against professors and students," causing Northrop Grumman to opt not to locate its national headquarters in Virginia.
"There are consequences to this mean-spirit (sic) attack on women’s health, on gay Virginians," he added.
Cuccinelli is opposed to same sex marriage.
"I believe that marriage is a union between one man and one woman. An overwhelming majority of Virginians voted in 2006 to include the definition of traditional marriage in Virginia’s constitution. As Attorney General, I have defended our constitution, and I will continue to do so if elected Governor," he wrote in his website.
Cuccinelli said the Northrop Grumman charge is false and the "soulless comment is offensively false."
Cuccinelli's actual quote was, “When you look at the homosexual agenda, I cannot support something that I believe brings nothing but self-destruction, not only physically but of their soul.”
Cuccinelli makes a clear distinction between gays and homosexual acts.
"My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong. They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural-law-based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that," he emphasized.
Although McAuliffe said he would sign a bill approving same-sex marriage, Cucinelli said the Democrat just does not understand the law.
"Well, it actually doesn’t happen in the form of a bill. It’s a constitutional amendment, so it never comes to the governor."
The Democrat hasn't written much in the way of specific recommendations.
A visit to his campaign website under "Jobs + Economy" shows three videos, titled "The Solution," "Energy Jobs" and "Biotech Policy."
The 1:19 long video called "The Solution" mentions four topics.
"Research and development" is a push for more public transportation.
"Training" is a call for more spending on schools.
"Efficiency" recommends eliminating red tape in government.
"Focus" suggests fewer ideological battles.
During the debate, McAuliffe pushed Medicaid expansion as the most important way to boost the Virginia economy.
"According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the federal government is offering Virginia $21 billion in funding over seven years to expand our Medicaid program. If we don’t accept the money, it will simply flow to other states. I believe that Virginia taxpayer money should stay in Virginia."
"Expanding Medicaid will cover nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians and create up to 33,000 jobs by 2021, according to the Senate Finance Committee," he added.
McAuliffe opposes Cuccinelli's proposed tax cuts.
"My opponent has proposed a $1.4 billion tax cut per year. He doesn’t say how he’d pay for it. Just the other day, his lieutenant governor said that E.W. Jackson and Ken Cuccinelli want to get rid of the corporate income tax in Virginia."
He said, You could see thousands of teachers being laid off."
The attorney general writes, "The government does not create jobs, our people do."
He offers a supply-side solution and less government intervention.
"The best way to recover from a recession is to establish pro-growth policies that will provide incentives for the creation of new small businesses, expand midsize businesses, and help corporations create more jobs."
Cuccinelli wants to lower personal income tax to 5 percent and business income tax to 4 percent.
"My ($1.4 billion) tax relief plan was designed to spur job growth and to put more money in the hands of our businesses, so they can reinvest it," he said, predicting it could create 58,000 new jobs.
To pay for it, Cuccinelli proposes to "eliminate about 15% of corporate loopholes and tax breaks that don’t work as well as the other 85%. And we’ll also cap growth and spending at about three and a half percent to pay for this package."
He says he is "[T]he only candidate who’s gotten both of the major business endorsements so far in this race, from the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s tech pack."
Cuccinelli opposes the expansion of Medicaid.
"A 40 percent expansion of Medicaid is not the way to help make it work better ... I think we need to make the Medicaid system we have now work better for the people who are in it. And there are ways to do that. We’re losing doctors and nurses and medical practices in our Medicaid program. We’re trying desperately to keep them in. And that’s a tremendous struggle for us."
Expanding Medicaid is also McAuliffe's top health care priority and he wants to use a provision of Obamacare to do it.
Part of the law allows states to expand their Medicaid rolls using federal subsidies.
"Expanding Medicaid will cover nearly 400,000 uninsured Virginians," wrote McAuliffe.
"Covering the uninsured for regular visits to the doctor for shots and checkups and life saving cancer screenings and treatment will also help reduce health care costs for those with insurance already," he said on his website.
Cuccinelli was the first attorney general to file a lawsuit against Obamacare.
"I believe strongly that healthcare decisions should be made by doctors and families, not by the government. Our healthcare system is bloated with rules and regulations that make health insurance more expensive and care less accessible. To combat these problems, I support harnessing market competition, consumer choice, and the power of better information for patients," his website states.
Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth