Former Virginia Attorney General and Virginia’s current Republican candidate for governor, Bob McDonnell, appeared on Fox News Sunday this weekend with host Chris Wallace. The Democrat candidate, Creigh Deeds, was invited but never accepted the invitation.
WALLACE: Joining us now to discuss what may be the most closely watched election this November is Bob McDonnell, the Republican nominee for governor of Virginia.
We want to note this summer we sent repeated requests to Mr. McDonnell and his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds, to participate in a debate. McDonnell said yes. Deeds repeatedly turned us down.
And so, Mr. McDonnell, welcome to “FOX News Sunday.”
MCDONNELL: Thanks, Chris. Pleasure to be on with you.
WALLACE: You have made the economy your top issue, and you are campaigning as a jobs governor.
But your opponent says in your 14 years in the legislature that you never wrote a bill to create jobs and that you voted three times to cut money from the governor’s opportunity fund which you now say is the fund you’re going to use to build the economy. Your response?
MCDONNELL: Well, it’s — it’s just simply not accurate. I’ve spent a lot of time during my legislative career and as attorney general finding ways to reduce the tax and regulatory burden on folks, to create tax credits for job creation, all of which, I think, contributed positively to the real good economic base that we’ve got in Virginia.
And I’ve made a number of proposals, of course, during this campaign to expand the governor’s opportunity fund, to promote small business and entrepreneurship, and…
WALLACE: But let me ask you…
MCDONNELL: … to keep taxes low.
WALLACE: Let me just ask you, if I might, about the opportunity fund…
MCDONNELL: Yeah. Sure.
WALLACE: … because it is a fact — we looked it up — in 2002…
MCDONNELL: Yeah. WALLACE: … and 2004 you voted three times to cut a total of $16 million out of this governor’s opportunity fund, which is an economic incentive and…
WALLACE: … improving and increasing the economy.
MCDONNELL: Well, there was a different time then. First of all, there were — those were part of overall budgets, as opposed to individual bills, that we did that in.
Secondly, my opponent voted for reduction of the opportunity fund over the last couple years as well.
But most importantly, Chris, is that times right now are much different. We’re in a global competitive environment competing against Carolina, Tennessee, Pacific Rim countries.
We’ve got to have a lot more aggressive approach to economic development, and that’s why now I believe, when I looked at the fact that we’ve got only a third of the incentives of North Carolina, I believe now we’ve got to be much more aggressive.
We can’t rely on our reputation. That’s why I’m very aggressively pursuing not only opportunity fund expansion but any number of other tax credits to be able to get new jobs to Virginia.
WALLACE: Perhaps the biggest problem that Virginia faces now is a decaying transportation infrastructure, and you pledged to fix it without raising any taxes by, among other things, diverting billions of dollars from the state’s general fund.
I want to put that up on the screen, because currently, 46 percent of that fund goes to education, 24 percent to health and human resources, and 11 percent to public safety.
Mr. McDonnell, which of those areas are you going to cut to pay for transportation improvements?
MCDONNELL: Well, if we do a good job on job creation and economic development, Chris, you don’t cut any of them, because you’re going to expand the economy.
My opponent’s got a very different view. He wants to raise taxes by billions of dollars to add to the budget. I don’t. I want to have economic development incentives to grow the economy so that the pie grows and you don’t take from one — one or the other.
His argument is just wrong that I’m stealing from education, because what I plan to do is take about a percent and a half for transportation, because it’s a core function of government but, Chris, also to use bonds and public-private partnerships down the road, the monies for privatization of our ABC stores, from offshore drilling.
WALLACE: We should point out those are — the state actually owns the liquor stores in your state.
WALLACE: But I’ve got to tell you, you know, I’ve read a number of reports from both Republican and Democratic newspapers’ analyses. They say you can’t get here from there. You can’t get the billions of dollars you need for state transportation by doing the things that you’re saying.
You’re going to have to cut other functions or you’re going to have to raise revenue.
MCDONNELL: Well, I disagree. I mean, I think governor of — being a governor takes leadership, and I’ve been a leader for the Army, and attorney general, in the general assembly for a number of years.
If you stake out a vision and you’re strong about these things that need to be done, with public-private partnerships and bonds and general fund direction to transportation, you can get the job done.
Chris, I put a bill together back in 2007 with Republicans and Democrats that got passed. It’s going to take that same kind of leadership. My opponent’s only solution is to raise billions of new taxes, which is the wrong approach for Virginia. I’m finding other ways to do it without raising taxes.
WALLACE: You enjoyed, according to the polls, a solid lead in this race until…
WALLACE: … it was revealed that in 1989 you wrote a master’s thesis in which you said — and let’s put up some of the things on the screen — this has obviously been a big issue here in Virginia — “The new trend of working women and feminism that is ultimately detrimental to the family.”
You criticize tax credits for child care. And you even opposed a Supreme Court ruling legalizing birth control for married couples. Mr. McDonnell, isn’t that a pretty radical agenda?
MCDONNELL: No. I think those are a couple of quotes out of a 100-page document, Chris, and what the whole purpose of the — of the thesis was to say, “Look, families are the bedrock of society.” And I think there’s broad agreement on that, and that government programs should not undermine the family, because that will lead to more government spending for problems that occur when the family’s not intact.
Look, it’s 20 years ago and some of my views over time have changed. I strongly support women in the workforce. That was one of the criticisms my opponent made. My daughter’s been in Iraq. My daughters both work. My wife is working in — outside of the home.
I mean, those — those allegations that I think have been inferences from a quote or two out of that old thesis are simply not accurate, and…
WALLACE: But if I may, your opponent says — I’m going to represent his interests here because he’s not here to speak for himself…
WALLACE: … that it isn’t just what you wrote 20 years ago when you were age 34 in a master’s thesis, that you have followed these as a state legislator. Let’s put up an ad that Creigh Deeds is running.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: Bob McDonnell introduced 35 bills to restrict a woman’s right to choose. He wants to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. And McDonnell opposed birth control for married adults.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WALLACE: In fact, we checked the record. As a legislator, you voted against a resolution that would have called for ending wage discrimination based on gender.
You voted against extending child care services.
And you voted against extending or requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control. So it’s not just the thesis.
MCDONNELL: Well, that’s — you know, Chris, I’ve had 100,000 votes in the general assembly. As attorney general, 90 percent of the bills that I introduced got passed. My opponent voted for 98 percent of them.
I think you have to look at the entire record. I’m pro-life. I believe the government should protect — should protect life. My opponent’s got a very different view.
I’ve gotten bills passed like bans on partial birth abortion, parental consent. My opponent’s opposed to those. So we do have a different view.
I believe marriage is between one — or between a man and a woman. He’s opposed that constitutional amendment. So we do have some different views.
But, Chris, my time in public service was devoted primarily to public safety initiatives, welfare reform, drunk driving reform, tax reform — a lot of common-sense things that I think have made our state much better.
So to be able to pick on one or two of those things is just simply not accurate. And the ad has got several errors in it.
In fact, most of the major newspapers in the state have editorialized over the last seven or eight days that many of these ads are just outright lies. They’re not honest. They’re deceitful. I mean, these are all the major editorial pages in the state.
So I think he’s just wrong on most of those contentions, and it’s because he’s standing with the federal government on card check, cap and trade, unfunded mandates, higher taxes. And I’ve got a different view, and he doesn’t want to talk about those important things.
WALLACE: Well, let’s talk about now the race itself. As I said, you enjoyed a solid advantage in the polls, but let’s look at the latest polls. And we have here the RealClearPolitics average that shows in the last two weeks your lead over Creigh Deeds, which was much bigger, is now just over four points. What happened?
MCDONNELL: Yeah. Well, but what we’re not thinking about is in June I was down by six points when he won the primary. I then went up to 10 to 15. We didn’t think either one of those were right. I wasn’t down by a lot and I wasn’t up by a lot.
This is a state, Chris, where Barack Obama won by seven. Mark Warner won the Senate last year by over 20 points. So it’s a competitive state. We’ve known that for a while. It’s a purple state.
For me to be up on the average of 5 points right now with 37 days to go — we think that’s a good position. And the more people look at who’s endorsing me, all the business groups, all the pro-free- enterprise groups, all the job creators supporting me, all the national labor unions supporting my opponent, I think people are going to realize I’m the guy that’s going to create jobs.
WALLACE: You know, we’re talking, obviously, here to a national audience. The Virginia and New Jersey governors’ races, which are always held the year after the…
WALLACE: … presidential election, are always seen, because we’re political junkies, as something of a referendum on the president, whether he’s new or has been re-elected.
Barack Obama was the first Democrat to win Virginia since 1964. Where do you think he stands now? And do you think President Obama helps you or your Democratic opponent?
MCDONNELL: Well, probably a little of both. And what I’ve said is look, I’m going to stand for what’s right for Virginia, what’s good for our job creating environment and what’s good for businesses in Virginia.
When the president or the Congress is wrong, I think, on things like card check, and cap and trade, and unfunded mandates, and federalizing the health care system, Chris, I’m going to say as governor that’s wrong.
When he’s right on things like charter schools and performance pay, I’ll say fine.
WALLACE: Do you think his standing in Virginia has dropped in the last 12 months?
MCDONNELL: Oh, absolutely, dramatically, probably 15 points. I think it’s about a wash. The last couple of polls I’ve seen he’s averaged about 50.
He’s been in for my opponent. I’m sure he’ll do more. Our governor, Governor Kaine, is the DNC chairman, so I — I’m running against them as well as all the national labor unions.
But I really do think that these federal issues, where I am opposed to the intrusions into the free-enterprise system and to these things that will hurt Virginia businesses and families, are wrong, and my opponent’s on the wrong side of those, and people are paying attention to that.
WALLACE: We have — finally, we have about 30 seconds left.
WALLACE: Usually, the candidate who’s behind wants to debate. The one…
WALLACE: … who’s in front doesn’t. As we pointed out, Creigh Deeds refused to appear on this debate, and he’s refusing to appear in a lot of other debates.
WALLACE: He’s only agreed to two.
WALLACE: Why he’s ducking debates?
MCDONNELL: Well, he’s agreed to four. We asked him for 10. He repeatedly refused. I think that the issues that are important to the citizens of Virginia, particularly the independent voters, Chris, favor me. It’s jobs, it’s economy, it’s transportation, it’s energy.
I’ve laid out detailed plans. He hasn’t. He wants to hike taxes by billions. I want to keep taxes low to be able to promote economic development. I think on those issues where I’m right and he’s wrong, he knows that more debates mean more exposure for his weak positions, and that’s why he’s not here.
WALLACE: Mr. McDonnell, we want to thank you. Thanks for coming in today.
MCDONNELL: Thanks, Chris.
WALLACE: And as if I had to point it out to you, just over five weeks till election day.
MCDONNELL: Can’t wait. Thanks, Chris.
No softball questions from Wallace. These were all based on allegations alleged by Deeds and all the pertinent issues of the campaign.