Virginia Republicans attacked Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe as dishonest Thursday, unveiling a digital ad saying that, if he will repeat debunked claims that he inherited a budget deficit as governor, then he will deceive again as he campaigns for his old job.
Dubbed “Big Things, Little Things,” the statewide GOP ad — obtained first by The Washington Times — uses Mr. McAuliffe’s own quote that people who lie about small things will lie about bigger things, too.
The ad spotlights multiple fact-checked articles that say Mr. McAuliffe is wrong to say he inherited a budget deficit from Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell and that it was the largest in state history.
Mr. McAuliffe has repeated the claim three times this month.
The Washington Post fact-checker found Mr. McAuliffe inherited a balanced budget — Virginia law requires it, essentially — and that revenues declined over 2014 because of federal spending cuts and an unanticipated drop in tax revenue because investors cashed in on capital gains in 2013 to beat an expiration in certain tax cuts.
“At the beginning of his time as governor, Terry McAuliffe faced a state budget prepared by his Republican predecessor that did not end up having enough revenue to cover the operating expenses. Not having enough revenues to cover expenses is the definition of a deficit,” McAuliffe campaign spokesman Renzo Olivari said.
Fact-checkers, however, have taken issue with the idea that Mr. McAuliffe walked into a deficit situation. They say he got a balanced budget, only for conditions to deteriorate.
“Fact-checkers have told McAuliffe five times that he’s wrong, but he keeps saying it,” the narrator of the 30-second spot says. “Big things, little things — what won’t Terry McAuliffe lie about?”
The Virginia GOP is attacking Mr. McAuliffe ahead of a general election race against Glenn Youngkin, who was named the Republican nominee last month after multiple rounds of voting at the state party’s convention.
“Two-Faced Terry McAuliffe has a troubled relationship with the truth, and it’s becoming clearer and clearer to Virginians that Two-Faced Terry will lie about anything in order to get elected,” Virginia GOP Chairman Rich Anderson said.
Mr. McAuliffe’s campaign hit back by saying the Democratic former governor has an economic record that will resonate with voters.
“While Glenn Youngkin will deny hardworking Virginians a $15/hour minimum wage, Terry will fight to increase it by 2024 and make sure our Commonwealth has the strongest post-COVID economy in the country,” Mr. Olivari said.
Virginia bars governors from serving successive terms. Mr. McAuliffe is running again, after having served from 2014 to 2018, to succeed fellow Democrat Ralph Northam.