Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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October 28, 2013

Clinton stumps for McAuliffe

BLACKSBURG, Va. — Former President Bill Clinton believes the choice for voters in Virginia’s closely watched Nov. 5 gubernatorial contest is clear.

“You have how shall I say it — two extremely interesting candidates — that are wildly different. And I came here to campaign for one of them,” Clinton said of his long-time friend and fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe during a rally Monday on the campus of Virginia Tech.

The two men addressed everything from climate change to jobs, and Clinton even touched on coal. The former president called McAuliffe a good, personal friend.

“We went on vacation together, we have spent endless nights talking the night away together,” Clinton said of himself, his wife Hillary and the McAuliffe family. “He is a good person and he is someone who was heavily involved in politics, but never ran before he became interested in becoming governor of Virginia.”

McAuliffe is being challenged by Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Nov. 5 gubernatorial contest. Clinton used Monday’s rally to emphasize the differences between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, who he said represented the ideology of the Tea Party. Clinton said McAuliffe is the candidate who will promote bipartisan cooperation and common sense.

“You might want to go home and read the Constitution of the United States tonight,” Clinton told the crowd of students, supporters and Democrats gathered inside of Owens Hall on the university campus. “It was organized by practical people. They were worried about the abuse of power because they all came here from somewhere else. So they put all of these checks and balances in the system. The American Constitution might as well be subtitled the art of the deal. It was fashioned by people in the so-called age of reason who believed we had to get together and make good decisions.”

Hoping to connect with the university crowd, both Clinton and McAuliffe questioned why Cuccinelli, as attorney general, went after a climate change scientist at the University of Virginia.

“I believe that scientific research and universities can drive economic growth and job creation,” McAuliffe, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, said. “He (Cuccinelli) doesn’t believe in climate science. So he used our taxpayer funds to launch what some newspapers called a witchhunt. It cost the University of Virginia over a half-million dollars. But beyond that it sent a chilling message.”

In briefly touching upon coal, Clinton said some of his fellow Democrats are opposed to research into carbon capture procedures because they believe “...global warming is a terrible thing.” However, the former president pointed to the success of carbon capture projects at Virginia Tech as reason for continuing the coal-based research. Clinton also voiced his support for carbon capture and storage research.

“Now here at Virginia Tech, I’ll give you an example,” Clinton said. “You have the nation’s leading research into whether carbon can either be captured or utilized and stored.”

McAuliffe, who spoke before Clinton, repeatedly linked Cuccinelli to the Tea Party.

“The Tea Party ticket is proposing an education plan that would divert money away from public schools,” McAuliffe said. “As governor, we are going to invest in our public schools. Our mainstream ticket believes we must invest in our schools if we want our students to succeed.”

The Cuccinelli camp announced Monday that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal will hold events with Cuccinelli today. And the Republican Party of Virginia issued a press release Monday questioning why President Barack Obama is not campaigning for McAuliffe.

Monday’s event at Virginia Tech was the closest McAuliffe has come to the Southwest Virginia region in recent weeks. McAuliffe has been criticized by some in Southwest Virginia for supporting President Barack Obama’s new EPA regulations that would limit carbon emissions from gas- or coal-fired power plants.

Neither McAuliffe nor Clinton took questions from the press following Monday’s campaign rally.

Both McAuliffe and Clinton attempted to link the recent government shutdown — and the lack of bipartisan cooperation between lawmakers in Washington — to the governor’s race.

“Our mainstream ticket thinks the budget in Virginia should be based upon common sense,” McAuliffe said. “Their Tea Party ticket views bipartisanship as betrayal. Our mainstream ticket views bipartisanship as a necessity.”

In closing, McAuliffe promised to promote equal rights for all residents of Virginia.

“We cannot have Virginia move backwards,” McAuliffe said. “We must keep Virginia a leader in higher education. We must attract the best jobs in the world. We must invest in teachers and students. We must be a state where gay Virginians are treated equally. And we must ensure that women have access to the quality health care they deserve.”

— Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com浥

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