The Virginia governor’s race looked to be pretty much a pick-up for the Republicans with Robert McDonnell running far ahead of Democrat Creigh Deeds. Then Mr. McDonnell mentioned his 1989 graduate thesis from Regent University, and all of a sudden, it’s getting interesting.
In the thesis, “The Republican Party’s Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade,” McDonnell described working women as “detrimental” to the traditional family. He criticized a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing contraception for unmarried couples and decried the “purging” of religion from schools. He advocated character education programs in public schools to teach “traditional Judeo-Christian values,” and he criticized federal tax credits for child care expenditures because they encouraged women to enter the workforce.
Considering the fact that Regent University is Pat Robertson’s institution, Mr. McDonnell’s views are not that much out of line with the hard-core religious right views of the school; in one case he lumps gays in with “fornicators.” The Democrats have been quick to jump on the story and spread the word that Mr. McDonnell has some rather medieval views of the role of women and religion, and Mr. McDonnell has mounted an effort to disavow some of his views for fear of losing the moderate voters in Virginia.
In his call with reporters Monday, a calm and prepared McDonnell explained in detail how he feels about issues that include gay rights, abortion and women’s rights. He mentioned several times that on some issues he agrees with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D), the state’s first Catholic governor, as well as with President Obama.
McDonnell said he still believes marriage should be limited to one man and one woman but thinks that discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation or marital status has no place in government or on the job. He said that he no longer agrees with what he wrote about women in the workforce and that regardless of his personal views, he “would follow the law,” as he did as attorney general.
What I want to know is why he feels compelled to moderate his image. After all, if you look at the GOP today — at least at the biggest mouths out there like Mike Huckabee — Mr. McDonnell’s views are pretty much in line with the party platform. And if I were a Virginia Republican, I’d wonder why Mr. McDonnell has suddenly decided to disavow his core values and gone all squishy-touchy-feely bleeding-heart liberal. Could it be because he realizes that it’s one thing to carry on like a hard-core right-winger when you’re hanging out with folks at Regent, but it makes it hard to get elected, even in Virginia?