- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The GOP presidential field took some friendly fire from Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II on Wednesday, as the iconoclastic Republican politician counted himself thankful his run for governor in 2013 wouldn’t come in the same year as the presidential contest.

During a question-and-answer period at an event in Prince William County, one audience member remarked how unimpressive he thought the GOP presidential field was.

“Thankfully, I don’t have to run at the same time,” Mr. Cuccinelli responded, eliciting laughter from the crowd of business leaders at the breakfast hosted by the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce.

“I’ll tell you, when I look at that Republican field, it looks like a pretty good idea to me,” he said of Virginia’s tradition of staggering gubernatorial elections a year after presidential elections. “But, you know, we’ll muddle through with what we’ve got.”

The event was one of Mr. Cuccinelli’s first public appearances in the state since announcing his gubernatorial bid three weeks ago.

The attorney general has not been shy about tweaking the contenders. Earlier this month, Mr. Cuccinelli said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich had elements of his record that were “anything but conservative.” He hit former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney on the health care plan the state enacted while Mr. Romney was in office, deriding it as “Obamacare lite.” Those comments came after Mr. Cuccinelli questioned the GOP candidates in a presidential forum hosted by the Fox News Channel.

Mr. Cuccinelli, though, did not spare Democrats from attack in a wide-ranging address that included discussions on his legal challenges to the federal health care overhaul and to the Environmental Protection Agency, over its regulations on carbon-emission standards.

“I have never seen the kind of disdain for the rule of law in one administration that we are seeing right now,” he said.

Despite the harsh words aimed at both of the major political parties, Mr. Cuccinelli, a tireless advocate for mental health who has served as court-appointed counsel for people in the state’s involuntary civil commitment program, also touted his office’s work on combating gangs, apprehending perpetrators of Medicaid fraud, and cracking down on sex offenders in the state.

He noted he was crafting a bill with Sen. David W. Marsden, Fairfax Democrat, for the upcoming General Assembly session.

The bill, Mr. Marsden said, would provide people on the sex-offender registry with updates to changes in the law.

“I think that notifying sex offenders what their responsibilities are under the law is a public-safety issue so they don’t inadvertently slip into something that could be an offense,” Mr. Marsden said.

The Democratic senator said he doesn’t always agree with the conservative firebrand, but that Mr. Cuccinelli is not the stereotypical figure critics make him out to be.

“Ken is always somebody who you can say, ‘Well, he’s this,’ or ‘Well, he’s that,’ and then you can show him something that lets you know that he’s not 100 percent that way,” Mr. Marsden said. “He’s sometimes hard to pigeonhole. You can’t use the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ to describe what his political positions will be.”



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