Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t buy the caricature his opponents paint of him
In the wake of a rousing victory at the Virginia Republican Convention, the GOP candidate for Attorney General has been relativity quiet. After a whirlwind tour around the state with his new ticketmates Ken Cuccinelli spent the last few weeks almost underground, building back up his spent fundraising coffers and gearing up for the race ahead.
The longtime Fairfax Senator burst back onto the scene the past few days by picking up media hits all over the state after calling for Governor Tim Kaine to bring the legislature back to Richmond to deal with the fallout from the Melendez-Diaz vs. Massachusetts Supreme Court decision. (If you want to learn more about that issue you can see my report from Friday night on NBC12 here.)
I sat down with Cuccinelli for the first time since he won his party’s nomination and much like the conversation I had with his opponent back in May we discussed a number of topics. While Steve Shannon has worked hard to paint himself as a non-partisan practitioner of the law, Cuccinelli proudly waves the flag of conservative republicanism. In fact during his speech at the Republican Convention, Cuccinelli supporters waded into the crowd at the Richmond Coliseum waving “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, as an indication of his belief that government should stay out of people’s lives.
But while Cuccinelli’s opponents, have already worked hard to describe the long time Senator as a fringe right winger (His nomination prompted the DPV to label he, McDonnell and Bolling as the most “divisive” ticket in Virginia history), Cuccinelli believes their rhetoric does not match his record. In particular he points to his ability to continue to get re-elected in Fairfax, not necessarily a base for conservatives.
While Democratic party leaders continue their push to paint “Cooch” (as he is affectionately called by supporters and foes) with bright red colors, his opponent Steve Shannon is trying to work hard to point out that he has never worked as a prosecutor. It is a credential that Shannon, and Cuccinelli’s Republican primary opponents, both describe as essential. Cuccinelli rejects that idea and even attempts to minimize Shannon’s brief career as a prosecutor. He believes his decades of work as an attorney and member of the legislature, serving on key law related committees, make him just as prepared.
After the jump I have extended clips from Cuccinelli where he rebuts those two pieces of criticism of his career and his campaign…
On charges he is too far to the right..
(note his correction of my “politically correct” label)
“There are a lot of issues that I am working on that just don’t fit in to their caricature of me. If we can confuse them, we are happy to do that.”
“I get independent and I get Democratic votes. If I didn’t I wouldn’t survive as a State Senator in Fairfax County.”
On charges that he was never a prosecutor, therefore unprepared to be Attorney General…
“The notion that you have to be a prosecutor in order to be the Attorney General is a little bit silly, in the sense that no AG goes to court to prosecute cases.”
“In our first debate, we had a death penalty case and he got the law wrong, he got the law wrong. I am more concerned about that frankly than bringing out 7 or 8 years ago experience of being a prosecutor for a little while.”