Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Thursday accused his Republican rival of having ties to a “radical” fathers’ rights group, while Ken Cuccinelli said his opponent was waging “war on Virginia’s poor” by supporting anti-coal policies.
Just another day in the pair’s bitterly contested race for Virginia governor, as the two candidates traded barbs while speaking at the Virginia Energy an Opportunity Forum in Arlington.
McAuliffe jumped on Virginia’s attorney general for defending Ron M. Grignol Jr. — the former leader of Fathers for Virginia — in a child custody court two weeks after being sworn into office in 2010.
Fathers for Virginia, which “empowers divorced fathers as equal partners in parenting,” has been accused by McAuliffe and others of working to undermine women’s rights in child custody cases.
The Democrat said Cuccinelli’s attorney-client relationship with Grignol, reported by the Washington Post on Thursday, was “shocking.”
Fathers for Virginia is a “radical group that has fought against adequate child support because they think it is, quote — punitive — unquote, for men,” McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe said if Cuccinelli were elected governor, his “extreme” social agenda would drive away prospective businesses from Virginia.
“Virginians simply cannot afford to have their leaders pursue their own rigid ideological agenda,” he said.
Cuccinelli defended his representation of Grignol and said he stayed with the case after he became attorney general because it would have been unfair and confusing to the child witnesses he was working with if he quit and a new attorney replaced him.
Cuccinelli, meanwhile, said McAuliffe’s energy polices would stifle off-shore oil drilling and the state’s coal industry — a main economic driver in economically depressed areas of western Virginia.
“What Terry doesn’t realize — I hope he doesn’t realize — is that the war on coal that he is supporting is a war on Virginia’s poor,” said Cuccinelli. “I don’t think Terry McAuliffe is going to rest until coal plants are shuttered.”
Cuccinelli also blasted his opponent over GreenTech Automotive, the troubled electric-car company McAuliffe founded and headed until last year. The company is under federal investigation for how it used a foreign investor visa program.
“Will [Virginiains] vote for someone who may enter office with a federal investigation hanging over this head? That would be a first,” the Republican said.