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Video: Tom Perriello Rips NRA as “Nutjob Extremist” Group, Gets Heated with Reporter Over “Contrasts” w/Ralph Northam


I wanted to highlight two interesting, revealing exchanges yesterday on the Kojo Nnamdi Show’s Politics Hour yesterday, where 2017 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Perriello was a guest. The first exchange gets into Perriello’s views on the NRA “then and now.” The second exchange, with reporter Tom Sherwood, gets quite heated over whether Perriello should explain where he differs/contrasts in policy, ideology, approach to governance, etc, etc. with his fellow 2017 Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam.  Personally, my view is that the purpose of primaries is in large part about the various candidates laying out their policy preferences, ideologies, leadership styles, etc., and explaining how those contrast with their opponents and why voters should pick them for those very reasons…

Question from “Bruce”: You had the endorsement of the NRA when you ran for Congress. Do you expect to seek the NRA endorsement again?

Tom Perriello: Definitely not. You know, I feel less like I’ve left than that they’ve left me. I fought very hard for the Manchin-Toomey commonsense gun reform. I helped run a national advocacy group that was one of the leaders in pushing for commonsense gun reform. You know, when I grew up the NRA was at my Boy Scout and YMCA camps with target practice and gun safety and protecting wilderness. And now they’ve really become a nutjob extremist organization, as I’ve called them before, that is much more interested in representing the gun makers than responsible gun owners. I do believe the Second Amendment protects people’s right to bear arms, and I think that’s consistent with moves towards commonsense gun reform that I have actively advocated for at the national level…

Sherwood: You know, I live in the District, I don’t have any personal thing in this campaign, but Ralph Northam sat right where you’re sitting and said virtually the same thing with as much passion. So I’m just trying to decide here on the Politics Hour…you call him a statesman in your letter to the Virginians. I’m just looking for a compare-and-contrast, one thing where you think he could have been more aggressive, not because you’re trying to tear him down.

Perriello: So why, you’ve asked me this four times, why do you think that it’s important for us to be against each other?

Sherwood: Because I can cite the political boilerplate of wanting to make things better for anybody. But if you don’t want to talk about your contrasts…I just think one contrast would be good tat you have more experience…world experience, that Virginia has a world economy, what you think you can bring to it. I mean, something that says you’re different from him. Otherwise, it’s just roll out boilerplate politics.

Perriello: So, let me actually turn the tables on you. I actually think you’re getting a little bit wrong what the role of the reporter is and the politician…

Sherwood: This is a political analysis show.

Perriello: I don’t think the role of the politician should be to go negative and draw contrasts…

Sherwood: I don’t want you to do…

Perriello: …I think that what reporters can do is look into my history and his history; you can find meaningful contrasts and the rest, but I think we can focus on the positive…

  • Elaine Owens

    I’m at least encouraged by the fact that Tom Perriello refused to go negative when the host was hoping for some way to “make news.” That said, Tom Perriello and Ralph Northam will have to find ways to differentiate themselves from their primary opponent, or the whole primary becomes a personality contest…which isn’t terrible, just not enlightening. I do feel that Perriello answered as well as he can the criticism of some Virginians about his prior stand on the NRA. Perhaps we’re looking here at a contest that is basically generational: Do you go with the older guy with ties to the Richmond establishment, or look to a younger fellow with a more diverse background in experiences who hasn’t served in Richmond.

    • There is absolutely nothing “negative” about explaining where you differ with other candidates on issues position, approach to governance, ideology, etc. In fact, that’s a big reason for having primaries in the first place…

      • Elaine Owens

        That was my point, Lowell, when I said the candidates will have to find ways to differentiate themselves from their opponent. Otherwise, as you said, there’s little reason to have what amounts to a “beauty contest”of personalities. It can be done, however, without the sort of attacking we often see in primaries. If few or none of those differences come to light (hopefully, in debates), then we will simply have a primary between two men of different generations and different political experiences. I still would prefer that to the sort of anger-rousing attacks we saw in the Democratic presidential primary…with lingering bad feelings that I’m convinced helped suppress the enthusiasm of the Democratic base which did not turn out in the numbers it did in 2008 and 2012. I do think that the host of the radio show was not seeking anything sensational in his question for just one way Perriello differed from Northam. I can’t figure why Perriello twisted it around.

        • Agreed, I’m not always a big Tom Sherwood fan, but in this case he seemed so simply want to hear – and for listeners to hear – if there are any issues, approaches, etc. where Tom and Ralph differ in any way. Seems reasonable to me, kinda what a reporter is supposed to ask, ya know? 😉

  • John Farrell

    As if the NRA was not a “nutjob extremist organization” in 2008 or 1978. Does Tom think we all have amnesia or that we are all fools? Tom needs to spend 5 minutes with Kathleen Murphy.

    His abject failure to offer any reasonable distinctions between himself and Doctor Ralph demonstrate that this exercise is a exactly the vanity tour it was suspected of being.

  • armatusrebellio

    I do believe the Second Amendment protects people’s right to bear arms, but only the ones a subset of people think you be allowed to bear.