Dems pull out stops to tie Pawlenty to McDonnell

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The national Democratic Party joined forces with two of its state organizations to tar Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty with a hard-right social “manifesto” — a 1989 master’s-degree thesis by Bob McDonnell, Republican candidate for governor in Virginia. As Pawlenty crossed the Old Dominion on Wednesday campaigning for McDonnell, Democrats held a teleconference with national reporters and Minnesota media. Why pick on T-Paw? Because, said Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, “he’s the first superstar we’ve had out here since the manifesto manifested itself.”

McDonnell’s thesis sets a course for the GOP against contraception for married couples, in opposition to working mothers, and in favor of discrimination against gay people.

Cranwell said he’d served in the state legislature with McDonnell and saw firsthand the “plague” that came out of the Republican’s prescription of positions for his party. He denied that the tele-press conference was part of a strategy to extend the damage to McDonnell that began with an Aug. 30 article in the Washington Post, where the story continues to develop.

“I don’t see it as a strategy,” Cranwell said, calling McDonnell “an individual at the extreme spectrum [sic] on some very basic, fundamental issues.” Based on McDonnell’s 1989 thesis and later actions in public life, Cranwell said those issues included access to abortion for victims of rape and women’s rights to work.

Cranwell discounted disavowals by McDonnell: “Your actions speak louder than words.”

Donna Cassutt, associate chair of the Minnesota DFL Party, accused Pawlenty of “trying to cull favor with the extreme right wing” of the national party in recent weeks to secure his chances as a Republican candidate for president.

Calling Pawlenty “comparable to Michele Bachmann,” Cassutt sought to link what she termed Pawlenty’s “Bachmann-esque” statements to McDonnell’s views, citing the Minnesotan’s worries about President Obama’s back-to-school speech and so-called health-reform “death panels.”

Asked about the DFL’s rallying behind Al Franken for U.S. Senate despite complaints from elected officials within the party about his past writings that some deemed demeaning to women, Cassutt called that a “completely different situation” and said she “never took offense” at Franken’s “satirical” pieces.

Democratic National Committee press secretary Hari Sevugan added that McDonnell “hasn’t just spoken, hasn’t just used words. He followed that up with action.”

The Democrats said they wanted to know if Pawlenty — who speaks frequently to audiences around the country about the Republican Party’s future direction — supported McDonnell’s ideas for the party.

Pawlenty is also vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Virginia is one of two states with gubernatorial elections this year — the other being New Jersey, where Pawlenty stumped for Republican Chris Christie last week.

How is the thesis brouhaha playing among everyday Virginians? When he’s “getting ice tea in the morning,” Cranwell said, “people are getting a view of who the real Bob McDonnell is.”

 

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