Is Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe really “losing it”?
Last week, McAuliffe snapped at a tracker who asked him if he really believes that parents shouldn’t have a say in their children’s education, demanding to know if the tracker is vaccinated and questioning why he wasn’t wearing a mask. It was a bizarre exchange and suggested the stress of the campaign may be getting to McAuliffe.
His Republican challenger, Glenn Youngkin, responded to this revealing moment during a radio interview with Larry O’Connor and me on WMAL last week.
“Terry is really starting to lose it,” Youngkin said. “I mean, he really is. He’s desperate. He knows that he has absolutely fallen behind in this race. We have huge momentum.”
“He knows what’s happening, so what’s he doing? He’s yelling at trackers, he’s bringing in the whole world to campaign with him,” Youngkin added.
The polls show a much closer race in Virginia than many would have predicted. The state has increasingly shifted further to the left thanks to the growing population of Northern Virginia, which tends to share the politics of neighboring liberal city Washington, DC. This is especially troubling for McAuliffe because he previously served as governor (Virginia prevents governors from serving consecutive terms) and left office with a relatively good approval rating.
“I think he might feel entitled because he was governor,” Youngkin mused during a Fox News interview Wednesday morning.
McAuliffe’s rising anxiety has presented itself in other campaign gaffes over the past few weeks. As parents swarmed local school board meetings in Fairfax and Loudoun counties protesting the introduction of critical race theory, trans bathroom policies and mask mandates in schools, McAuliffe asserted during a debate, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” The Youngkin campaign immediately cut the comment into television ads and deployed “Parents for Youngkin” signs. It took McAuliffe weeks to respond; when he did, he dubiously claimed that he was “taken out of context.”
The former governor was asked about his comment during a Tuesday interview with WJLA. He asserted that he did not “misspeak” and perhaps inadvertently doubled down.
“I was talking about what we need to do, bringing people together — we have the state boards we have the…board of education, we have the local school board,” McAuliffe said, curiously omitting parents from his list of groups who need to work together on education.
McAuliffe somehow managed to turn this bad interview to worse when he walked out midway through and scolded the reporter for not asking his preferred set of questions. WJLA says they offered 20 minute interviews to both Youngkin and McAuliffe to be fair to each candidate. Youngkin completed his full interview, but McAuliffe stormed off set after about 10 minutes.
“Hey, I gave you extra time,” McAuliffe said as he left his chair. “C’mon, man. You should have asked better questions early on. You should have asked questions your viewers care about.”
“Well, we did,” a WJLA news team member sternly replied.
Luckily, McAuliffe is fighting off his poor optics by assembling the Democratic Avengers; though he has touted President Joe Biden as “unpopular” in Virginia, he’s employed the assistance of Vice President Kamala Harris, failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, First Lady Jill Biden and former president Barack Obama. Harris even recorded a video urging black church goers to vote for McAuliffe, potentially in violation of IRS rules prohibiting tax-exempt organizations from endorsing political candidates.
Compare McAuliffe and friends to Youngkin, who has declined to campaign with former president Donald Trump, despite McAuliffe repeatedly claiming that his opponent is some kind of Trump clone.
That’s not the only reaching line of attack McAuliffe has employed lately; he’s also tried to make the election about abortion. Polls instead show that the most important issues for likely voters are the economy, COVID and education.
Why the flip-flopping on the issue of parent involvement in schools? Why the attempt to make the election about anything else — Trump, abortion, election fraud? Why the abrupt ending of interviews? McAuliffe is doing anything to save his floundering campaign and may very well, as Youngkin put it, be “losing it.”