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Tipsheet

Terry McAuliffe Changing His Tune on Major Campaign Issue When It Comes to Midterm Advice

AP Photo/Steve Helber

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) who won in 2013 but ran again and lost in 2021, is now very much changing his tune on a major campaign focus from last year: former President Donald Trump. 

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During Thursday's episode of "The Five" on Fox News, the opening segment featured countless clips of McAuliffe referencing Trump, to then show a clip of him on MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports" earlier that day with some advice for Democrats when it comes to their chances in the upcoming November midterms, now less than three months away. 

"We're about to kick off the fall of a midterm campaign, and I tell Democrats all the time, forget Donald Trump, just forget it," McAuliffe said. 

McAuliffe was speaking in his capacity as a former DNC chair, alongside the anti-Trump RNC Chairman Michael Steele. In one of his first moves as DNC chairman, McAuliffe had denied the results of the 2000 presidential election, calls he repeated for 2004, when President George W. Bush was running for re-election. It was thus particularly rich, and hypocritical, that McAuliffe tried to falsely portray his Republican opponent and now current governor, Glenn Youngkin, as an election denier. 

That segment of "The Five" also focused on how Democrats have been targeting Republicans as "evil," "racist," and "misogynistic," including when it comes to Virginia's election last year. 

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As co-host Dagen McDowell, who is from Virginia, referenced on air though, Virginia last year not only elected Youngkin, but Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares. Sears is the first woman and first black woman to serve in the role, while Miyares is the first Latino elected statewide. 

When it comes to McAuliffe's losing campaign, it's worth reminding that Trump lost Virginia in both 2016 and 2020, by 5 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Virginians already weren't too fond of, but they really didn't have him much on their mind. 

As Salena Zito very aptly put it in a column for the Washington Examiner last October, "Terry McAuliffe is misreading what matters to Virginia voters." 

In it Zito wrote:

Last week, McAuliffe tweeted: “Glenn Youngkin wants to bring the Donald Trump-Betsy DeVos education agenda to Virginia: MASSIVE cuts to public schools and redirecting taxpayer dollars to private schools. We have got to stop them.” McAuliffe's push along these lines has gotten even the left-leaning PolitiFact to dispute his veracity. McAuliffe is so desperate to tie Youngkin to Trump that he has even resorted to planting "Youngkin = Trump" signs at his campaign events. 

To win, McAuliffe has to change the dynamic. He's got two ways to do it. One requires introducing something that is truly disqualifying for Youngkin. That hasn't worked, and so the other is to associate Youngkin with Trump, which also isn't working. Most voters' concerns in this election have literally nothing to do with Trump, and they’d like you to stop asking about him, thank you very much.

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Not long after the election, Zito wrote a column for The New York Post noting that "Virginia election proves voters are sick of hearing about Donald Trump."

In it, she mentioned that "McAuliffe’s strategy of focusing on COVID, Trump, Trump and Trump was wildly out of touch." With original emphasis she wrote that McAuliffe "and his fellow Democrats missed the most fundamental thing about human behavior, which is that people always vote looking forward. What matters is their lives, their children’s lives, their grandchildren’s lives and their community — not what happened yesterday."

It wasn't merely PolitiFact which hit McAuliffe hard, on this and many other issues. During the September 16 debate between McAuliffe and Youngkin, moderator Susan Page pointed out to the Democrat that "to watch your campaign ads, Virginia voters might well think Donald Trump is on the ballot." Trump came up dozens of times, mostly by McAuliffe. 

McAuliffe, at every turn, attempted to tie Youngkin to Trump every chance he got. While McAuliffe brought in countless Democrats to campaign for him, some with no ties to the commonwealth, Youngkin was determined to campaign for and make the race about himself. Evidently it paid off. Youngkin won with 50.6 to McAuliffe's 48.6, even outperforming Republicans from previous years in the more liberal areas. 

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When it comes to what McAuliffe has next, Thursday's POLITICO Playbook announced that he is one of the newly announced fellows at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service for the fall semester. 

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