Obama campaign attempts to drag Romney into Thorne-Begland controversy
Stephanie Cutter is an important player in the Obama for America campaign infrastructure. As Deputy Campaign Manager, there is only one staff member higher on the organizational chart. As a regular surrogate for the campaign she regularly drives the discussion in frequent television and media appearances.
Cutter was on a local satellite tour Wednesday to talk about the campaign’s two-minute ad that attacks their opponent Mitt Romney‘s career at Bain Capital, a private equity firm. NBC12 was one of the stations where the ad aired, and we talked to Cutter about its impact on the election. Most of the interview as about the economy, but it was a general question about the shift back to the economy after a week talking about social issues where Cutter took the opportunity to wade into a very local issue. The failed nomination of Richmond prosecutor Tracy Thorne-Begland as District Judge.
Thorne- Begland is openly gay and made a very prominent stand against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” during his time in the Military. His activism prompted conservative members of the Virginia House of Delegates to prevent his nomination from going forward. Cutter knew all about the fight and was not afraid to attack the GOP lead Virginia House of Delegates.
“I think that when things like this happen in this country and specifically Virginia, it turns people off,” Cutter said. “The man is overly qualified to be a judge and this is a real leadership moment for some people in Virginia.”
While the Thorne-Begland controversy has grown well outside Richmond to media reports in numerous national outlets, the battle is over a relatively low-level judgeship. One primarily responsible for traffic tickets and vandalism. Important, no doubt, but more Judge Harry Stone, than Judge Thurgood Marshall. The basis of the battle, the fight over gay rights was enough for Cutter to call out the republican candidate for president of the United States.
“I think that it is an opportunity for Mitt Romney to stand up and say what the legislature did is just plain wrong,” she said. “I don’t know if he will show that type of leadership, he hasn’t so far.
The Romney campaign had no interest in wading into this hyper-local issue that could put them at odds with republicans in Virginia.
“This is yet another example of how President Obama and his campaign would rather talk about anything other than his failed economic record,” said Curt Cashour, a Romney campaign spokesman.
The Romney Team did not specifically address the Thorne-Begland nomination at all. They chose not to support or condemn the House of Delegates move. Instead they tried to put the focus back on the Obama economic record.
“Obama’s presidency just hasn’t lived up to the promise of his 2008 campaign, and after more than three years in office, Americans are still suffering through one of the worst job markets in history,” Cashour said.
Meanwhile the battle over what is normally an easy nomination appears over. Andy Jenks today ran down all 36 members of the House of Delegates who didn’t vote to see how they would’ve voted, and why they decided to leave town. There appears to be no momentum to re-nominate Thorne- Begland who has gone back to his job as a prosecutor in the Richmond Commonwealths Attorney’s Office.
But while the battle is over, it appears the remnants of the is fight will continue on well into November.
You can see extended clips from Cutter’s remarks below: