- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 28, 2009

RICHMOND — Former President Bill Clinton told Democrats that if they liked the way American jobs multiplied on his watch, they’ll love what Terry McAuliffe will do as Virginia governor.

In the first of two campaign stops Monday, the two longtime friends and political allies defined energy and jobs as the dominant issues in Mr. McAuliffe’s quest for governor. Mr. McAuliffe and his political patron, Mr. Clinton, repeated those themes later in the day in Roanoke.

Mr. Clinton told about 350 people at a Richmond rally, some of them wearing boilermakers and firefighters union T-shirts, that Mr. McAuliffe was right to promote offshore wind energy and technologies to turn poultry waste into power.

“When he goes around giving these speeches about turning chicken litter into electricity or putting in windmills off the coast, he understands a fundamental truth: that for the next 10 years, the only way we can create enough jobs to put everybody in Virginia to work is … to tighten the labor markets by changing the way we produce and consume energy,” Mr. Clinton said.

Mr. McAuliffe has staked much of his “Business Plan for Virginia” on energy, from the biomass waste conversion plans to wind and solar energy and biofuels. He called for a $1.3 billion project to operate a high-speed rail line from Richmond to the District, about 100 miles to the north - largely funded by federal stimulus cash.

And he also took the opportunity to distinguish himself from the Republican candidate, former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell.

“Bob McDonnell, … he makes fun of green jobs; he makes fun of alternative energy,” Mr. McAuliffe said, tying Mr. McDonnell to lopsided GOP losses last fall in Virginia’s senatorial and presidential races. “His slogan is like Jim Gilmore’s, ‘Drill, baby, drill.’ Well, that’s not the answer, folks.”

Mr. McAuliffe, however, has been less forthcoming on the issue of coal-fired power. He has repeatedly dismissed questions about whether he would support a proposed coal-burning plant near Surry, calling it a speculative issue. At the rear of the crowd in Richmond, three or four people waved anti-coal signs, including one that read “Terry: Say No to Surry Plant.”

Coal is much more popular, however, in some outlying parts of Roanoke’s media market, where coal mining is an economic mainstay.

There, on the final stop, Mr. McAuliffe stressed support for offshore wind turbines.

“As governor, one of the first things I want to do, within the first couple of months in office, I want to be out in the ocean, in the Atlantic. I want to be hammering a pole down so we’re putting up wind farms all over Virginia Beach, so we’re not having to build more coal facilities and transmission lines,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

Mr. McAuliffe goes back about 20 years with Mr. Clinton. He was chief fundraiser for both his successful White House campaigns and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s failed presidential bid last year.

“The press says, ‘Aw, well, Terry McAuliffe raised millions of dollars for Bill Clinton, and he’s got to show up.’ And that’s absolutely true,” Mr. Clinton said. Then he added, “But, … it matters who the governor is. He was made for this moment, to be governor.”

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