It turns out that Mr. Cuccinelli does in fact have a transportation plan. It’s called the train wreck. Or that at least appears to be his campaign strategy.
Even as stalwart a Cuccinelli critic as myself did not foresee what a disaster this man would be as a candidate for governor. I figured that he might have learned a lesson from the political successes of Gov. McDonnell and at least make some moves to the center — I mean, at least throw political moderates and independents an occasional bone. But it seems that he is way too busy throwing raw meat to the radicals in his party to make any concessions to the actual electorate.
It is true that according to current, early polls, he remains tied with Democrat Terry McAuliffe. But the bigger picture is that every single day, he is supplying his opponents with fresh ammunition, reinforcing his image as an unrepentant fanatic, in bed with industry, and giving his enemies more inspiration to fight him even as he daily adds to their ranks. At a time when he needs to be expanding his appeal, he seems steadfastly determined to narrow it.
The news cycle reflects near-daily hemorrhaging, from the stories about his conflicts of interest with Big Tobacco company Star Scientific last Saturday, to his archaic defense of sodomy laws on Wednesday back to his campaign’s refusal on Thursday to say if he personally has committed any “crimes against nature” to Friday’s revelations that two of his staff also have inappropriate ties to Star Scientific and that his Star Scientific buddies sell tobacco candies, perhaps to minors. All this not long after his new book reinforced his extremist image (even considering Social Security and Medicare to be socialist plots) and his speech to the CPAC conference and interviews with Iowa and New Hampshire radio stations raised questions as to whether he’s more focused on 2016 than 2013.
It’s not just his failure to appeal to anyone outside of the Tea Party circle. Few commentators have noted that Cuccinelli just lost what was likely to be his best weapon against Terry McAuliffe — the charge of practicing “crony capitalism.” The next time Republicans make such an accusation, the McAuliffe campaign need articulate only two words: Star Scientific.
Nor can anyone blame a bad campaign manager or bad luck or the so-called “liberal media” for any of this, when it is quite clear that all of this garbage is coming directly from candidate Cuccinelli himself. As Jim Webb likes to say, “The fish rots from the head down.”
I am certainly not suggesting that this situation should in any way make Democrats feel overconfident nor that McAuliffe’s team should take their foot off the accelerator for even a moment. Tragically, we’ve seen enough examples over the years of Democrats blowing golden opportunities. My point is precisely that Terry needs to seize this opportunity and take full advantage of it. While Cuccinelli constantly reinforces his extremist image, Terry needs to spend more money and time introducing himself to the voters as the moderate, reasonable alternative.
The train wreck vs. the efficient high-speed train that gets you where you want to go — that’s a race we can win. So let’s get out there, capitalize on Cuccinelli’s lunacy, and give this disaster movie the happy ending that the people of the Commonwealth deserve.