Mitt Romney re-emerged on the political scene on Wednesday by doing what he does best: fundraising. The former Republican presidential nominee was set to appear at a fundraising lunch event for Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee in the Virginia gubernatorial election. The event was to be held at Fleming’s steakhouse in McLean, Virginia, a wealthy Washington, D.C. suburb.
“Ken is grateful to have Governor Romney’s support,” Cuccinelli spokesman Richard Cullen told The Washington Post. “He’s looking forward to sharing ideas with the governor on how to grow Virginia’s economy and implement his plan to create 58,000 jobs.”
What’s behind this union between a presidential candidate who could not carry Virginia and the attorney general who is slipping in the polls? For starters, ideology. Cuccinelli and Romney have campaigned on a similar platform, especially on economic issues. But it doesn’t start and stop there. Romney has long had ties to the Virginia Republican Party, which were solidified when he strongly considered Virginia governor Bob McDonnell as his running mate in 2012.
Cuccinelli’s plan for Virginia’s economy is similar to the economic plan Romney ran on in 2012. An analysis by The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, concluded that it would decrease the state budget by lowering a millionaire’s tax. According to Tom Perriello, a former Democratic congressman from Virginia and the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s president and chief executive, Cuccinelli’s plan is “Romney-like.” He told The Washington Post: “We don’t want this Romney-like budget that’s very clear-cut about giving tax breaks to the richest – to the top five percent,”
Furthermore, Cuccinelli appears to sympathize with Romney’s damning “47 percent” statements. Below is an excerpt from Cuccinelli’s book, The Last Line of Defense: The New Fight for American Liberty, in which he discusses entitlement programs.
One of their favorite ways to increase their power is by creating programs that dispense subsidized government benefits, such as Medicare, Social Security, and outright welfare (Medicaid, food stamps, subsidized housing, and the like). These programs make people dependent on government. And once people are dependent, they feel they can’t afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run, or costly to the rest of society.
Beyond ideology, Romney has strong ties to the Virginia GOP and has been a very successful fundraiser in the Commonwealth. In the 2012 election Romney raised over $13 million in Virginia, making it the state that donated the fifth largest sum of money to his campaign. So Romney is a good friend to have when raising money from Republican donors in Virginia.
After the fundraiser, Cuccinelli will debate Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce in the evening. Romney has Cuccinelli covered on that front, too: Politico reports that Bret O’Donnell, Romney’s former debate coach, has “joined team Cuccinelli.”