Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said Monday his focus during this year’s gubernatorial race will be jobs and the economy and that he “can’t worry” about other races such as that of E.W. Jackson, the GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor, who has drawn unwanted attention for remarks he has made about abortion, gay people and President Obama.
Mr. Cuccinelli said on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” that he wants to be governor to promote job creation in Virginia. Even though the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, he acknowledged that some of that has to do with the amount of federal dollars that flow into the Commonwealth — money that is tapering off.
The Republican has outlined a plan to cut individual and business income tax rates, which he says will be offset by aligning the growth rate in the state’s general fund with inflation and closing exemptions and loopholes in the state’s tax code.
On the exemptions and loopholes, Mr. Cuccinelli said education and health care are off the table, but said the plan is to bring together lawmakers to rank them all and cut them based on economic impact.
Mr. Cuccinelli declined to indulge host Chuck Todd when he was asked whether Mr. Jackson, who, among other things, has likened Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan, was his first choice to be the Republicans’ nominee for lieutenant governor.
“You know, we had seven different people running for lieutenant governor, and I keep my votes to myself,” he said.
Mr. Cuccinelli is running against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former rainmaker for President Clinton and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
“If I start getting into what any running mate — remember, I got 100 House of Delegates seats at the same time, too — If I start diving into every single other race, we’ll lose focus off job creation,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “I’m more concerned with getting an edge on Terry McAuliffe by communicating a job-creating message to Virginians. That’s my focus. I just can’t worry about the other stuff going on around the ticket.”
Democrats have tried to paint the Republican ticket that also includes state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, Harrisonburg Republican, the party’s nominee for attorney general, as overly focused on social issues like abortion and gay rights.
“The Tea Party ticket says their top priority is a career-long mission to outlaw abortion in all cases and ban some common forms of birth control,” Mr. McAuliffe said earlier this month.
All three Republican candidates have certainly stated publicly that they oppose abortion, but Politifact Virginia rated the statement false on Friday.