Wednesday, October 7, 2009

RICHMOND | A day after losing a fundraiser with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, Robert F. McDonnell’s Republican gubernatorial campaign announced new events by Sen. John McCain and former football coach Lou Holtz.

Mrs. Whitman, a Republican running for governor in California, had been under pressure at home to cancel the Virginia event with Mr. McDonnell because of a stridently conservative college thesis he wrote in 1989.

Copies of Sept. 24 e-mails between Whitman and McDonnell staffers show a McDonnell aide missed a deadline for providing Mrs. Whitman’s campaign with logistical details.

The Associated Press obtained copies of the e-mails from Mr. McDonnell’s campaign.

Democrats on Monday claimed that Mrs. Whitman bailed on Thursday’s event in Northern Virginia because of the thesis, written to satisfy master’s and law degree requirements at Regent University, the Christian college founded by religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. The paper argued that working women were detrimental to families and that government could justify discrimination against gays and people who have sex and live together outside wedlock in defense of the traditional family structure.

Whitman campaign spokeswoman Sarah Pompei said the cancellation arose from a scheduling conflict but would not elaborate.

Mr. McDonnell has dismissed the paper as a 20-year-old academic exercise and renounced most of the views it expressed, saying life and watching his grown daughters mature changed his views.

Mr. McCain, the longtime Arizona senator and last year’s Republican nominee for president, will headline a rally with a pro-McDonnell veterans group in the Hampton Roads area on Oct. 17. Mr. McDonnell’s campaign had not set a time or location as of Tuesday.

Mr. Holtz, an ESPN college football analyst who coached Mr. McDonnell’s alma mater, Notre Dame, to a national title in the 1988 season, comes to Richmond’s Willow Oaks Country Club on Oct. 26 for a meet-and-greet with McDonnell donors.

Mr. McDonnell’s Democratic opponent, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, has campaigned with President Obama, and his campaign is in talks to have the president return before the Nov. 3 election.

With Virginia and New Jersey alone electing governors this fall, huge checks from national parties and independent outside organization’s known as “527 groups” dominate fundraising.

The Democratic National Committee, headed by Gov. Tim Kaine, announced that it was fattening its commitment to Mr. Deeds beyond the $5 million already pledged to Virginia’s gubernatorial and down-ticket races.

Over the past 30 days, 527 groups have spent $2.1 million in Virginia races, including $507,000 to Mr. Deeds in late September from the Democratic Governors Association and $400,000 from the nation’s largest government employees union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Mr. McDonnell was the beneficiary the past two weeks of nearly $540,000 in independent television, radio and direct mail aid from the National Rifle Association, which endorsed him last month. Also, Mr. McDonnell has received nearly $2 million each from the Republican Governors Association and the Republican National Committee, not counting $2.5 million given to Virginia Common Sense, a political action committee created to attack Mr. Deeds. Its name is a twist on Common Sense Virginia, an attack PAC that received $3 million from the DGA in the spring solely to hound Mr. McDonnell.

Juliet Williams in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.

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