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Thread: VA Governor's race erupts over Robert McDonnell's past views

  1. #1
    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    Default VA Governor's race erupts over Robert McDonnell's past views

    Here's his thesis:

    Governor's Race Erupts Over McDonnell's Past Views

    By Amy Gardner, Rosalind S. Helderman and Anita Kumar
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Tuesday, September 1, 2009

    The Virginia governor's race ignited Monday over Republican Robert F. McDonnell's 20-year-old graduate thesis: Democrats assailed him in e-mail blasts and interviews for what he wrote about working women, homosexuals and "fornicators," and McDonnell tried to explain his views to crucial moderate and female voters.

    After a sleepy summer filled with rural RV tours and policy papers on energy and the economy, news of the thesis, first reported Sunday in The Washington Post, pushed the race to a fever pitch.

    McDonnell's opponent, Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, bombarded state and national media with details of the thesis, submitted by McDonnell in 1989 for a master of arts in public policy and juris doctorate in law from Regent University in Virginia Beach.

    McDonnell, meanwhile, spoke by telephone to reporters for nearly 90 minutes, saying that his views have changed on many of the issues he explored as a graduate student. He also released a list of women who support his campaign.

    "I'm disappointed but not surprised that my opponent wants to make this a central issue in the campaign," said McDonnell, the former state attorney general and a 14-year veteran of the House of Delegates. "During my years in the General Assembly, Senator Deeds would suggest that I have this undue focus on social issues. That's just a flat misrepresentation."

    In the thesis, "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade," McDonnell described working women as "detrimental" to the traditional family. He criticized a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing contraception for unmarried couples and decried the "purging" of religion from schools. He advocated character education programs in public schools to teach "traditional Judeo-Christian values," and he criticized federal tax credits for child care expenditures because they encouraged women to enter the workforce.

    In his call with reporters Monday, a calm and prepared McDonnell explained in detail how he feels about issues that include gay rights, abortion and women's rights. He mentioned several times that on some issues he agrees with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), the state's first Catholic governor, as well as with President Obama.

    McDonnell said he still believes marriage should be limited to one man and one woman but thinks that discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or marital status has no place in government or on the job. He said that he no longer agrees with what he wrote about women in the workforce and that regardless of his personal views, he "would follow the law," as he did as attorney general.

    With a recent Washington Post poll giving McDonnell a substantial lead, Deeds and other Democrats sought Monday to shift the momentum.

    McDonnell has focused his campaign on job creation, a message that has resonated with pro-business moderates. On Monday, Democrats focused on McDonnell's conservatism.

    The Deeds campaign sent out a fundraising appeal with the thesis as its main focus. The state Democratic Party produced a video, "Bob McDonnell's Secret Blueprint for Virginia," setting a news report about the document to driving, apocalyptic classical music. And Kaine, who is chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said that after years of working with McDonnell in Richmond, he was "not surprised" by what he read in the thesis.

    "To me, it seems like kind of a blueprint of, 'Here's what I hope to do as an elected official,' and I think he's been working diligently to do that," Kaine said.

    The story quickly spread on liberal blogs, including Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post. By late afternoon, more than 70 blogs had picked up the thread.

    Democrats have long attempted to characterize McDonnell as an ultra-conservative who is playing down his views on such issues as abortion, school prayer and gay rights so as not to alienate moderate voters, particularly in Northern Virginia, who increasingly decide statewide elections.

    But McDonnell's public record and his reputation among colleagues paint a more complex portrait. He appears as a man with deeply conservative views that spring from a strong Catholic faith but also as reasonable, open-minded and increasingly focused on such issues as jobs and transportation.

    "What I found in him is exactly what I found in Tim Kaine: A man with a considerable intellect, who is prepared to think and rethink constantly," said Randal J. Kirk, who was Kaine's biggest individual donor in 2005. Kirk said he is considering a donation to McDonnell.
    By disavowing earlier views on working women and the traditional family and saying little on abortion and gay marriage, McDonnell is choosing to appeal to moderates and suburban women -- but might alienate the conservative base.

    "There are three ways to lose," said Patrick M. McSweeney, a former state GOP chairman and a standard-bearer of the party's right wing. "One is you can state a position that is controversial and offend a lot of people. Second, you can not take a position and offend people who want leaders. And third, you can back away from a previously held view. But the worst thing to do is to lose votes in all three of those areas."

    The reaction of women and moderates was hard to measure Monday. Democratic legislative candidates in Northern Virginia said they were stunned at the number of voters they encountered who had read about the thesis and were dismayed by it. The Deeds campaign reported signing up 300 donors since Sunday.

    "If you're going to run on a jobs platform, how do you do that when you relegate half of the working population to second-class status? Because that's what this paper he wrote reveals," said Del. Margaret G. Vanderhye (D-Fairfax).

    Some Republicans said they had heard little reaction. Others said party activists were energized, convinced that McDonnell is being unfairly attacked over an old academic paper. Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) said attendees Sunday at a Republican Women's Club rally in Fairfax said they were incensed over what they called a "hatchet job."
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  2. #2
    Elite Member kingcap72's Avatar
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    "I'm disappointed but not surprised that my opponent wants to make this a central issue in the campaign," said McDonnell,
    As a Republican he would've done the same thing to Deeds if the roles were reversed.

  3. #3
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    This is from yesterday's WaPo article on it:
    At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.

    The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.

    During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.
    Va. Candidate McDonnell Says Views Changed Since He Wrote Thesis

    I think that says it all right there. Not wanting to end wage discrimination for women in 2001.

  4. #4
    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    WP currently has a live chat with its reporters on the subject. Here's a good comment from someone writing in:
    Virginia Beach, Va.: I'm a former Regent employee and can tell you categorically that McDonnell's thesis is very much in line with both his and Pat Robertson's viewpoints. McDonnell has served on the Board of the University and the Board of the Law School over the years and his sister is a former Vice President. Believe me when I say that what you see in that thesis is the true McDonnell. He has cloaked himself in moderation to be more palatable to the electorate.
    Va. Governor's Race Erupts Over McDonnell's Past Views -
    "Oh! I've been looking for a red suede pump!"
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    Elite Member Quazar's Avatar
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    I think that says it all right there. Not wanting to end wage discrimination for women in 2001

    ^^ Seriously - how can someone really be against that? It's OK to pay women less money for the same work? I'd like to hear his rationale for why this is all right?

    Please Virginia - don't let this guy in.

  6. #6
    Elite Member ManxMouse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quazar View Post
    I think that says it all right there. Not wanting to end wage discrimination for women in 2001

    ^^ Seriously - how can someone really be against that? It's OK to pay women less money for the same work? I'd like to hear his rationale for why this is all right?
    Because it only encourages those silly women to enter the workforce and that's bad for the FAMILY, don't you know!!

    Seriously though, it should be noted that no one has ever been able to pass any federal legislation requiring equal pay for equal work. That should be shocking to everyone.
    Santa is an elitist mother fucker -- giving expensive shit to rich kids and nothing to poor kids.

  7. #7
    Silver Member cockfosters's Avatar
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    Thesis Issue Builds, McDonnell Tries to Move On

    Former Colleagues Say Views Persist

    Republican Robert F. McDonnell's 20-year-old master's thesis continued to consume the Virginia governor's race Tuesday, with Democrat R. Creigh Deeds presenting the paper as his opponent's true beliefs and McDonnell insisting otherwise.

    The Deeds campaign brought out four former Republican lawmakers who said the views expressed in the thesis mirrored the positions they saw McDonnell take again and again in the General Assembly. McDonnell reiterated that some of his views have changed, particularly regarding women in the workforce, and attempted to change the subject to education.

    At issue is a 93-page research paper titled "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade," in which McDonnell laid out a conservative action plan to promote the traditional family in government. McDonnell wrote against working women, feminists and homosexuals, and he decried the absence of religion in the public schools, the rise of single motherhood and the creation of tax credits for child care to encourage mothers to work.
    He submitted the thesis in 1989, two years before he was elected to the House of Delegates, while pursuing public policy and law degrees at Regent University in Virginia Beach.

    Deeds has been highlighting McDonnell's conservatism for months, but his campaign pounced on the thesis as further evidence of it after details from the paper were first published Sunday in The Washington Post. On Tuesday, the four former lawmakers, who had previously announced their support for Deeds, used the thesis to talk about McDonnell's record. "It's the Bob I've always known,'' said former senator Martin E. Williams (Newport News). "My biggest shock is that he is running away from it, because I really do think it's who is he is."

    Deeds made no direct comment Tuesday; he was in California raising money for his campaign.

    McDonnell's most prominent female supporter, Democratic businesswoman Sheila Johnson, dismissed Deeds's attacks over the thesis and said she was sticking to her view that the Republican would be a better steward of the economy.

    McDonnell tried to steer attention away from the thesis by appearing at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria to unveil a plan to pump more dollars into Virginia classrooms by diverting money away from inefficiencies and "bureaucracy."

    But the Republican was greeted by television reporters who lobbed question after question at him about whether he still held the views he espoused in the paper. McDonnell appeared prepared for the barrage, surrounding himself with female supporters carrying pink "Women for McDonnell" signs.
    "Listen, this campaign to me is not about a 20-year-old thesis," he said.

    "This campaign is about who's got the best ideas about jobs and the economy and transportation and education. These are the things people all over Virginia have told me that they care about."

    State and national media interest continued Tuesday, with dozens of news pieces and TV and radio interviews. Reactions included Democrats and women's groups seeking to portray McDonnell as an ultra-conservative, Republicans dismissing the controversy as a feeble attempt by Deeds to revive his sagging poll numbers and conservative Republicans saying they are not thrilled with McDonnell's change of heart on some views.

    Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, aggressively pushed the thesis as a campaign issue, sending out at least five news releases and an e-mail to supporters under the subject heading "Grave Concern."

    Victoria Cobb, president of the Virginia-based Family Foundation, called upon McDonnell not to waver in his conservatism. "Bob McDonnell got where he is because pro-family Virginians have seen him as a champion for their cause," Cobb said. "If he expects to motivate those same voters, they need to continue to see him as that champion."

    Bill Stanley, a self-described conservative from Franklin County, said Republicans in his part of the state are not talking much about the thesis, and he dismissed it as a paper likely written to please his professors.

    "If he's changed his views on women and the workplace, good for him. I don't see that [as] straying from a conservative viewpoint. Conservative values are strong family values," he said. "I don't think that means he is less conservative."
    Enjoy the liquor and delicatessen.

  8. #8
    Elite Member Shinola's Avatar
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    Imo, that thesis is probably his blueprint for his future political career. By the time you're that age, a thesis is not just some youthful foible. It's more like a statement of intent.
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  9. #9
    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    ^ Agreed.
    "Oh! I've been looking for a red suede pump!"
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  10. #10
    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    A bit more about Mr. American Taliban:
    Does Bob McDonnell Want to Outlaw Non-Marital Sex?

    Does Robert McDonnell, the Republican candidate in the Virginia governor's race, believe non-marital sex is a crime?

    McDonnell, who was widely regarded as leading Democrat Creigh Deeds in the off-year election, has hit a rough patch of his own making -- or writing. The 1989 master's thesis he submitted to the evangelical Regent University -- titled "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade" -- was unearthed by The Washington Post this past weekend, and it contained the sort of stuff oppo researchers die for. In the 99-page document, McDonnell outlined a battle plan for social conservative warriors that called for the usual things: make abortion illegal, oppose gay rights, bring religion into the schools. The Democrats and media reports have focused on how McDonnell went the extra mile by decrying working women as "detrimental" to the traditional family, blasting federal tax credits for child care expenses, and denouncing a Supreme Court decision overturning laws criminalizing contraception for married folks.

    But while reading the full document -- in which McDonnell asserted, "Each institution in society has been instituted by God for specific, limited purposes" -- I learned that McDonnell had been a true fundamentalist, for he had written approvingly of laws that made sexual intercourse outside of marriage illegal.

    Slamming the Supreme Court for its 1965 Griswold decision preventing states from outlawing contraception for married people, McDonnell huffed,

    In Eisenstadt v. Baird the activist Court [in 1972] illogically extended the Griswold notion of "marital privacy" to unmarried persons, at a time when every state in the union made sexual intercourse between unmarried persons a crime.

    In the context of the overall thesis, written when McDonnell was 34 years old, this passage sure makes it appear that McDonnell fancied laws that banned sex between people not wed to one another. Later in the thesis, he noted that Eisenstadt v. Baird and other Supreme Court decisions had led to "the perverted notion of liberty that each individual should be able to live out his sexual life in any way he chooses without interference from the state."

    Not only did McDonnell believe that the state could ban the sale of contraception to married and unmarried people, he thought the state had the right in certain circumstances to criminalize sex between consenting adults. This was in 1989, years after the sexual revolution had gone mainstream.

    Since the Post first reported the contents of McDonnell's thesis, he has said that his views have changed on many of the issues he addressed in this paper -- particularly the role of women in the workforce. (You betcha.) As Melinda Henneberger notes, he has attempted to pass off his anti-working women sentiments as in keeping with his religion -- a Catholic thing. And he has dismissed the thesis as "a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era." A 34-year-old student, that is.

    By the way, throughout the campaign, he has said little about abortion and gay marriage. Obviously, campaigning as a social conservative champion is not the way to win an election in a state that went for Barack Obama last year.

    Still, voters have cause to wonder what McDonnell truly believes about these matters. Moreover, who would have thought that in 2009 there would be good reason to ask a frontrunner in a gubernatorial campaign, Should sex without a ring be against the law? Especially in a state with the motto "Virginia is for lovers."
    Does Bob McDonnell Want to Outlaw Non-Marital Sex? -- Politics Daily

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    Elite Member Little Wombat's Avatar
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    Scrutiny Spreads to '03 McDonnell Remarks
    'Homosexual Conduct' Comments 'Irrelevant' to Campaign, He Says

    By Amy Gardner
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Wednesday, September 9, 2009

    In January 2003, then-Del. Robert F. McDonnell helped gavel in one of the most extraordinary judicial reappointment hearings in Virginia history: a seven-hour, trial-like affair that led to questions about whether the future Republican gubernatorial candidate thought gays were fit to serve on the bench.

    As chairman of the House Courts of Justice Committee, McDonnell sat at the head of the proceedings, with his Senate counterpart next to him and committee members on both sides. Facing them was Verbena M. Askew of Newport News, the state's first black female Circuit Court judge, whose reappointment was in jeopardy because of allegations that she had sexually harassed a female colleague.

    Amid accusations of racism and homophobia, state lawmakers grilled Askew and several witnesses for hours, focusing in large part on her failure to disclose the harassment case. Some members also raised questions about her actions from the bench. A majority, including McDonnell, voted against her reappointment.

    In comments before the hearing, McDonnell indicated that Askew's sexual conduct was relevant, telling one newspaper that "certain homosexual conduct" could disqualify a person from being a judge because it violates the state's crimes against nature law. The words were widely published at the time, and his remarks contributed to a lasting view that sexual orientation was at least one reason for Askew's ouster.

    McDonnell said in an interview last week that the episode has nothing to do with his campaign for governor.

    "It is 100 percent irrelevant in this race," he said. "What's relevant in this race is what the records of the candidates are on issues that the voters care about and, number two, who's got the best ideas to be able to create jobs and build infrastructure and build a better Virginia. That's what's relevant."

    McDonnell's role in the hearing has attracted renewed scrutiny after the publication last week of a 1989 graduate school thesis in which the 14-year lawmaker and former attorney general had criticized working mothers and homosexuals and urged the promotion of traditional values through government. In one passage, McDonnell wrote: "Man's basic nature is inclined towards evil, and when the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter."

    McDonnell has dismissed his thesis as a "20-year-old document" and an "academic exercise" with no bearing on a political campaign that ought to be focused on jobs, road improvements and public schools. He said some of his views have changed since he wrote the thesis while earning public policy and law degrees at what is now Regent University in Virginia Beach. And he emphasized that he has never viewed sexual orientation as a relevant factor in hiring decisions or fitness for public office.

    McDonnell said he joined the majority in voting Askew off the bench for several reasons: The City of Hampton, where she had established a drug court and where her accuser worked, had settled the harassment claim for $64,000. A Virginia Employment Commission hearing officer found that the accuser, Brenda Collins, was forced to resign her job in part because of retaliation. And in surveys, local lawyers had expressed dissatisfaction with Askew's courtroom performance.

    McDonnell was credited by Republicans and Democrats in the Virginia General Assembly at the time for making sure witnesses supporting Askew were present at the hearing.

    He also became known for telling the Daily Press of Newport News that certain homosexual activities could disqualify a person from the bench. "It certainly raises some questions about the qualifications to serve as a judge," he said.

    "There is certain homosexual conduct that is in violation of the law," McDonnell added. "I'm not telling you I would disqualify a judge per se if he said he was gay. I'm talking about their actions."

    McDonnell said through a spokesman last week that the quotes are not accurate, and the candidate repeated that assertion Friday.

    At the time, McDonnell did not deny the comments, which were reprinted by several other papers, but he told the Virginian-Pilot that they were "inartful." He added, "What I told [the reporter] is if there was evidence, proven evidence like a criminal conviction, of a violation of the law, any criminal law, those things would need to be taken into consideration to determine the fitness for reappointment."

    McDonnell also told the Virginian-Pilot: "Homosexuality is not an issue with regard to the qualifications of a judge. I imagine we have gay judges on the bench now. That's not a material inquiry."

    Terry Scanlon, the Daily Press reporter who interviewed McDonnell, and Ernie Gates, the newspaper's editor, both said last week that McDonnell never complained about the quotation's accuracy.

    Scanlon, who now lives in Colorado and is no longer a reporter, also remembers asking McDonnell whether he had ever violated the crimes against nature statute himself -- a fair question, he thought, because McDonnell had raised the legal point. The statute, among other things, prohibits oral or anal sexual contact, regardless of the sex of the participants. McDonnell's response, Scanlon reported, was: "Not that I can recall."

    In the subsequent interview with the Virginian-Pilot, McDonnell dismissed his answer as a "flippant" response to a "shocking" and "unfair" question. In political circles, it was a widely disseminated remark, and it came to symbolize, some said, McDonnell's role in the Askew affair.

    "Bob was the only one that I remember who at the time described his position on the case in relation to her sexual orientation," said Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), who was then the state's lieutenant governor and president of the Senate.

    Kaine, who is also chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a supporter of McDonnell's Democratic opponent, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath, noted that the Askew affair is not McDonnell's only intervention regarding sexual orientation. In addition to pushing a state constitutional amendment requiring that marriage can occur only between a man and a woman, McDonnell intervened to oppose Kaine's first act as governor in 2006: to expand the state's nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation.

    McDonnell argued at the time that his concern was strictly a legal one -- that Kaine's action was one for the legislature, not the governor, and thus violated the state constitution's separation of powers provision.

    Deeds was not a member of the courts committee, but he said last week that he remembers hearing extensively of the Askew hearing. "It seems to me kind of odd that, six years after the fact, he's getting around to saying he was misquoted," Deeds said of McDonnell.

    In an interview last week, Askew denied being gay, as she always has. She also denied harassing Collins and noted that she was not a party to the city's settlement. She also said the state bar dismissed a complaint about her failure to disclose the harassment settlement to lawmakers. She said she believes that McDonnell chose to become involved for political reasons.

    "This was a local issue," said Askew, now in private law practice. "He shouldn't have been in it. Nobody asked him to get in that process. He did that himself, and he did it to promote his social issues."

    Two Republican colleagues of McDonnell's in the legislature, Sens. Kenneth W. Stolle of Virginia Beach and Thomas K. Norment Jr. of James City County, confirmed that McDonnell was eager for his committee to participate in the hearing despite their view that the Senate could conduct the proceeding without House involvement. Norment represented part of Newport News and, as a lawyer, had fielded numerous complaints about Askew's judicial conduct, he said. Stolle was chairman of the Senate Courts Committee.

    "I cautioned him," Stolle recalled. "I said, 'Bob, you know you want to run for attorney general. I assure you that nothing good is going to come from this.' . . . And Bob came back and said several of his [colleagues] had contacted him, and wanted to know what was going on, and wanted to know why they hadn't taken part."

    Staff writer Rosalind S. Helderman contributed to this report. - nation, world, technology and Washington area news and headlines
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    Elite Member Fluffy's Avatar
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    McDonnell intervened to oppose Kaine's first act as governor in 2006: to expand the state's nondiscrimination policy to include sexual orientation.
    I'm sure Mr. American Taliban would prefer going back to when women were only allowed to be barefoot and pregnant and gays just never existed.

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