Embattled Virginia gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is complaining that Democrats are wrongly painting him as an enemy of women’s progress. “We need you all to defeat those lies,” he told his supporters Tuesday, adding “especially the ladies in here.” There’s a 24-point gender gap in the latest Washington Post poll, with women overwhelmingly favoring Terry McAuliffe, so Cuccinelli’s pushback is predictable, if a little late.
And futile. This is the guy who supports personhood legislation, which would criminalize some forms of birth control, and opposes emergency contraception for rape victims and rape or incest exceptions to an abortion ban. He was one of three state attorneys general who didn’t support reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Last weekend he invited Tea Party Sen. Rand Paul to come plagiarize the Wikipedia entry on “Gattaca” in order to equate abortion with euthanasia. That ought to win over “the ladies.”
Cuccinelli is also the guy who shared some creepy Hillary Clinton fantasies in his personal newsletter to supporters, “Cuccinelli Compass.” The Washington Post reported Wednesday on the extreme statements about immigrants, guns and gay people in the “Compass,” but what got less attention was Cuccinelli’s weird animus toward Clinton.
In a 2007 entry, he shared a fantasy about the Clintons partying with the late Sen. Ted Kennedy at the next year’s Democratic convention. “1:35 am - Bill Clinton asks Ted Kennedy to drive Hillary home,” Cuccinelli wrote. A great joke: plays on Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick tragedy, Bill Clinton’s womanizing and some Republicans’ desire to see Clinton dead.
He also liked to refer to Clinton as “Scary Liberal Lady.” And he advised his constituents to start their day right: by naming a document file “Hillary Clinton,” then deleting it. “Your PC will ask you, ‘Do you really want to get rid of Hillary Rodham Clinton?’ ” Cuccinelli wrote. “(Firmly) Click ‘Yes.’ ”
It shouldn’t be surprising: one of Cuccinelli’s consultants was active in the anti-Hillary group that gave opponents an opportunity to “Slap Hillary.” (He quit the group to sever the link between Cuccinelli and the group’s misogyny. Why did he bother?) And I’m sure it plays well with Cuccinelli’s base. As Slate’s Dave Weigel reported, Cuccinelli’s audience hates McAuliffe not only because he’s a Democrat but especially because he’s a Clinton family friend.
“Hillary Clinton? I hate her,” one Cuccinelli supporter told Weigel. “I think she’s a murderer. I think she should be in jail. She disgusts me. Everything she did in Benghazi, it disgusts me. She should be disqualified from running for president.”
“Virginia’s a real plum for the Clintons,” said another. “Hillary and Obama worked under the same man, Saul Alinsky.”
What will really matter in next Tuesday’s election is whether Cuccinelli does more to energize his right-wing, anti-Clinton base – or to energize McAuliffe’s. Normally, an off-year electorate is whiter and older than the emerging Democratic majority. But women’s groups are looking to make an example of Cuccinelli, and in that way, competing in an off-year race could help McAuliffe, since national Democratic and women’s organizations aren’t spread out across the country.
That Cuccinelli used Hillary Clinton as a punchline and a metaphorical punching bag is just more evidence of his backward views on women. We’ll see whether “the ladies” of Virginia accept those views next Tuesday.