Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli visited a pair of Hampton Roads small businesses Tuesday to trumpet his new jobs plan -- a $1.4 billion income tax cut -- in the face of Democratic attacks against his record on women's health issues.
Just days before the Republican nominating convention at which Virginia conservatives will formally name Cuccinelli their candidate for governor, Cuccinelli was out refocusing his campaign squarely on economic issues that he hopes will help him win over crucial moderate and independent voters this fall.
During a campaign event Tuesday, Cuccinelli embraced the legacy of Gov. Bob McDonnell, promising to continue the current administration's emphasis on job creation.
"Thanks to the great work of Gov. McDonnell and others, Virginia is a great place to do business," said Cuccinelli. "But there's more to do."
The convention will be a coronation of sorts for Cuccinelli given that he's running unopposed, but the state's top two Republicans -- McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling -- will skip those festivities. Bolling, who decided against running for governor, was protesting the use of a convention, rather than a primary, to pick the nominee. McDonnell will be delivering the commencement address at University of Virginia's College at Wise.
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and his allies are looking to undermine Cuccinelli's crowning moment by casting this weekend's convention as a gathering of fringe activists. Democrats will spend the week highlighting Cuccinelli's votes on abortion issues, with Planned Parenthood holding a rally Saturday in Richmond before Cuccinelli is officially named the party's nominee.
State Democrats on Tuesday noted that Cuccinelli while a state senator co-sponsored so-called personhood legislation that gave a fetus the same legal rights as citizens. And the Democratic Governors Association released a new web video comparing Cuccinelli's past abortion rhetoric to other pro-life Republicans.
"Ken Cuccinelli's empty campaign rhetoric doesn't hide his lifelong effort to inject his extreme agenda into decisions that Virginia women make with their doctors," said Democratic Party of Virginia Executive Director Lauren Harmon.
McAuliffe spent Tuesday campaigning at businesses run by women, casting himself as the candidate most concerned about the economic and medical health of women.
Republicans dismissed the attacks on Cuccinelli as a distraction. The candidate, meanwhile, has so far stuck to emphasizing his economic plan, which would cut state personal income taxes by 13 percent and corporate income taxes by 33 percent and pay for it by closing unidentified tax loopholes exploited by businesses.
Cuccinelli also took aim at President Obama, accusing the Democratic leader of over-regulating small businesses.
"Today's economic challenges are very real," said Cuccinelli. "Burdensome federal regulations, new taxes and higher costs are restricting the growth of our current businesses and hurting the ability to grow new ones."