Book Party! Terry McAuliffe’s Campaign Begins With Past Anecdotes, Jobs Speeches

May 11, 2013 8:00am

Terry McAuliffe has been re-launching his gubernatorial campaign this week with a series of stump speeches around the state, talking about jobs and the economy in Virginia.

But what was buzzing about the Virginia race over the course of his launch week had nothing to do with that.

No, it was his 2008 book, “What A Party!: My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animals” that captured most of the national news about the former Democratic National Committee chairman’s race against Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

There were the revelations from BuzzFeed that McAuliffe had left his wife in the delivery room to attend a party for a Washington Post reporter, and on another occasion left his wife and newborn son in the car, on their way home from the hospital, to attend a fundraiser. The Atlantic pointed out that McAuliffe got into an argument — over health care policy — with a doctor while his wife was giving birth.

The Daily Beast dredged up yet another gem from McAuliffe’s past: A passage from Marjorie Williams’s book, “Reputation,” in which McAuliffe tells her that his wife doesn’t know how much money he has.

“She’s got a great life. Listen, her credit cards are always paid and all that. She knows I do very well. But she has no idea. Myself and my accountants are the only people who know,” McAuliffe is quoted as saying in the book.

National Journal’s Jill Lawrence collated these tidbits to conclude that McAuliffe has a “woman problem”– that despite Cuccinelli’s opposition to abortion in most cases, and his support for state policies that have made abortions less available, women in Virginia would be turned off by the anecdotes about McAuliffe and his wife.

Others have pointed out that, if he planned to run for governor, McAuliffe maybe shouldn’t have divulged so many of these things along the way. Whether or not they hurt him in the race remains to be seen: while a recent NBC/Marist poll showed McAuliffe leading by two percentage points, 43 percent to 41 percent, a plurality of those surveyed — 46 percent –didn’t know enough about him to say whether they hold a favorable or unfavorable opinion of McAuliffe. For Cuccinelli, 34 percent didn’t know enough or didn’t want to say whether or not they liked him.

In other words, the race has barely even started.

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