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Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Saturday drew a clear line between his vision for the state and Republican opponent and current attorney general Ken Cuccinelli‘s before an enthusiastic crowd of around 250 gathered in Arlington County’s Rosslyn neighborhood to celebrate McAuliffe’s 56th birthday and launch the campaign’s first field office.

In an opening salvo, McAuliffe took a shot at Cuccinelli’s controversial term as attorney general, which saw him wage a war against climate scientist Michael Mann, sue the EPA to prevent regulation of greenhouse gases, sue the federal government to stop Virginia from implementing health care reform, urge universities to end gay protections, and other ideologically extreme actions.

McAuliffe said, “we need a good attorney general, because we know what happens when we have an attorney general who’s more interested in suing scientists and all this other stuff, instead of focusing on the job at hand. So it’s important for us to have a real attorney general who’s focused on the people’s business and not some social ideological agenda which is going to divide us.”

He pointed out that Cuccinelli is against the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, while he is “all in,” saying that by embracing the Medicaid expansion, Virginia would be able to cover nearly 500,000 more residents with quality health care and receive $21 billion over the next seven years. “It’s the right thing to do morally for these folks. Also it’s the right thing to do for us here in the Commonwealth to keep our citizenry healthy and prevent illnesses,” going on to say that if Cuccinelli’s plan to reject Medicaid expansion takes place, Virginia will lose that money to other states. “Our taxpayer money is going to go to those other 49 states. It’s our money. It takes care of our citizenry. Let’s keep that money here in Virginia.”

The former Democratic National Committee chairman, Clinton confidante and electric car company founder also touched on key issues he will focus on over the next nine months, including the need to create the jobs of the 21st century by doing something about making the state’s renewable energy standard mandatory, having a dedicated source of funds for transportation, infrastructure upgrades, and education reform.

McAuliffe acknowledged he is up against history because “whoever wins the White House, the other party’s won the governor’s mansion for 40 straight years.” He then went on to remind supporters that President Obama defied history by winning Virginia twice in a row.

“He did it, and we’re going to do it too. We’re going to shake up some history.”

Photo and video credits: Josh Marks


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