DALE CITY, Va. — Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday slammed the caricatures that have been painted of his good friend Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race, even as Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II seized on new details of an investment scheme in which the Democrat profited off the terminally ill.
Mr. Clinton and Mr. McAuliffe kicked off the first day of a multiday swing through the commonwealth ahead of the Nov. 5 election by telling a crowd of several hundred at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Dale City that the state can’t afford to elect a rigid ideologue as its next governor.
Mr. Clinton said one of the biggest contributors to political polarization in the country today is the fact that a “whole different America” shows up in nonpresidential years to vote.
“The people that aren’t here today, [that] go to the other fella’s rally, they’ll be there on Election Day,” Mr. Clinton said of Mr. Cuccinelli’s supporters. “I’ve dealt with it all my life. They will be there. But there are more of us that believe that working together is better than constant conflict.”
He followed the lead of his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who endorsed Mr. McAuliffe last weekend in Falls Church but did not mention Mr. Cuccinelli by name. Mr. Clinton spent much of his remarks talking about his time as president and governor of Arkansas and said Mr. McAuliffe would make a fine governor as well. He said his blood boils when he reads some of the “cartoon characterizations” he has heard about his longtime friend.
“I believe with all my heart that Terry McAuliffe will be a great governor of Virginia,” Mr. Clinton said. “I believe that within a year, people who didn’t vote for him will wonder what they were thinking.”
Mr. McAuliffe gave a warmed-over version of his stump speech, portraying Mr. Cuccinelli as too ideological to serve as governor and repeating his story of being deployed by President Obama’s campaign on election night last year to hand out hot chocolate to people waiting in line to vote in Richmond.
“You know what was amazing to me?” Mr. McAuliffe said. “Not one single person left that line — not even families with school-age children. … I need to see that intensity again this year, folks, because the stakes are just that great.”
Mr. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, countered with an afternoon conference call to blast new details about Mr. McAuliffe’s ties to an investment scheme in which he and other profiteers made money investing in the financial policies of the terminally ill.
The Washington Post reported late Saturday that estate planning lawyer Joseph Caramadre, currently in federal prison awaiting sentencing, helped Mr. McAuliffe “place a bet on a dying man” through an annuities loophole.
A McAuliffe campaign spokesman declined in the report to say whether Mr. McAuliffe knew the basics of the investment. He said the Democrat was led to believe he was investing in a legitimate pooled annuity. The campaign said Mr. McAuliffe did not list it on financial disclosure forms during his 2009 gubernatorial run on the advice of his attorney.
“Above all, I think this disturbing development underscores a stark contrast between my opponent and me,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “Terry McAuliffe, over a career of political influence-peddling, has been willing to do anything to benefit himself and build a fortune even, it seems, investing in the death of a terminally ill person, or more than one, perhaps.”
Mr. Clinton and Mr. McAuliffe were scheduled to make stops later Sunday in Richmond and Hampton as part of their tour across the state. Mr. Cuccinelli has events planned with Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday and Tuesday.