The race for the Virginia governor’s mansion took a nasty turn Tuesday, as Democrats attacked Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, a Republican, for refusing to condemn statements made by a major financial backer comparing abortion to slavery.
The statement came from Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List, which last month pledged at least $1.5 million to Cuccinelli’s campaign for governor.
“There’s a point when you become culpable in the killing of other people, because of what the government is making you do,” Dannenfelser said over the weekend while speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, where Cuccinelli gave the opening address. “And that is one of those tipping point moments. It happened in slavery when slaves had to be returned to their masters. When we — when our hands are bloodied by this, it becomes a whole ’nother thing.”
After the comments, Lauren Harmon, executive director of the Democratic Party of Virginia, said in a statement, “Ken Cuccinelli should condemn his backer’s ridiculous and offensive comparison of a woman’s constitutional right to make her own health care choices with the atrocious institution of slavery. Virginians need to know that, despite his close ties to this radical organization, Cuccinelli rejects this awful rhetoric.”But instead of backing away from Dannenfelser’s statement, Cuccinelli campaign went on offense, attacking his opponent, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, for two supporters who recently hosted fundraising dinners.One host was Doug Band, a former aide to President Clinton—a confidant of McAuliffe’s—who was the subject of a 2007 article in the Wall Street Journal claiming Italian citizen Raffaello Follieri had paid Band $400,000 to help arrange a real estate deal. Follieri, former boyfriend of Oscar-winning actress Anne Hathaway, was later convicted of cheating investors and was deported back to Italy after serving time in a U.S. prison.The other host was John Kinney, a childhood friend of McAuliffe’s from Syracuse, who spent a weekend at the Clinton White House with his wife in an arrangement overseen by McAuliffe as a reward for raising money for Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign, according to news reports at the time.“Ken Cuccinelli is focused on issues that matter to Virginia’s middle class, instead of gutter politics peddled by [a] professional fundraiser, Terry McAuliffe,” Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said via e-mail. “But if Terry McAuliffe wants to discuss donors, we are more than willing to oblige: Let’s start with Doug Band, who is connected to a scam artist who served time in prison, or what about John Kinney who – thanks to Terry McAuliffe – got a weekend at the White House for hosting a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton.”
Dannenfelser issued a statement responding to Democrats’ complaints about her slavery comments.
“The SBA List believes in protecting the human rights of mothers and children,” she said. “On the other hand, Terry McAuliffe supports a platform of abortion on-demand at any time, for any reason, paid for by Virginia taxpayers. That means he supports a platform of sex-selective abortion, late-term abortion, partial-birth abortion, and abortions on teenage girls without parental consent – all paid for by Virginia tax payers. In sync with the extreme abortion lobby, he is utterly out of step with Virginia taxpayers.”
It is “stunning that Ken Cuccinelli is willing to stand with comments comparing women’s health care access to slavery,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. “By standing with the extremist Susan B Anthony List, Cuccinelli is showing once again that his agenda is extreme and dangerous for women’s health in Virginia.”