Bob McDonnell today answered all of the media’s questions regarding his 1989 thesis. On the conference call, he was calm, cool and collected. After discussing this tempest in a teapot and the various things that some media outposts have glommed on to, McDonnell took questions from the media during the course of the nearly 90 minute call. This was an open, free flowing exchange with actual answers given unlike the contrived damage control interviews given by Barack Obama or Jim Webb during their campaigns.
So, in advance of tomorrow’s newspaper articles, here’s what REALLY was said on the call and what reporters’ questions were. If anyone tries to twist what was said, you’ll know it by reading below.
Following are rough notes taken during the call. Please pardon the numerous typos and grammatical errors.
Bob just came on.
Haven’t read or thought about thesis in several decades. Only 5 people had read it until now — two were McD and his wife.
Disappointed, but not surprised that my opponent wants to make this a central issue in the campaign.
Deeds backtracking from his pledge that the campaign would be issue-based.
For the last month, Deeds has made social issues the focal point of his
McD wrote countless term papers in college, law school, etc.
My views as an academic graduate student in 1989 in many ways are different than they are in 2009.
Timeframe was 1980s. Most written in 1988. Influenced by the times.
Reagan admin. policy. Lot of discussion of Great Society policies. No
fault divorce in 1970s. Trend of more two parent working families. Goal of internship was the trends. Look at welfare policies of 1960s. Was this a positive or negative impact on families? What impact would gov’t policy have on the future? Views shaped by being raised in a Catholic, middle-class Democrat family in NOVA.
Really believed that family was bedrock of society. Read Reagan’s writings.
Had a few children at that time. Strong family similar to what Kaine said in 2004. Wanted to look @ gov’t policy, what impact it was having on the family and what could be done going forward.
Strong, two parent family is the ideal situation in which to raise a family.
Pro-life as a legislator. Strong, functioning families cut down the amt. of taxes required for welfare and social services. Faith based
organizations help strengthen society. Gov. Kaine has advocated this as VA’s first Catholic Gov.
Golden rule. Attitude he has brought to the office of AG.
Hasn’t read back through the whole thesis. Just scanned it.
Page 9 — do certain policies contribute to a breakdown in the family and what can be done to reverse those?
Legitimate question 20 years later is what are the views of the candidates?
Just left the office of a prosecutor in VA Beach. Most of his bills as a
legislator dealt with public safety.
Big thing that McD did based upon his thesis was the welfare reform
legislation in 1995. Became model for 1996 welfare reform legislation
passed by Cong. and signed by Pres. Clinton. Included transportation, etc. to help working, single mothers and working women get back on their feet.
105 pieces of leg. introduced. 92 were enacted (Deeds voted with him 98% of the time.)
Since 1989, my views on a number of things have changed. I’m older, raised 5 kids, raised a number of teenagers (still have 2). His wife has worked most of this time, much outside the home, sometimes w/ homebased businesses.
He’s pushed both his older daughters to get Masters Degrees. Wanted them to excel, get a good job. Daughter Jeannine was in Iraq. Broke barriers.
Strongly support women in the military and in the workplace. For Deeds to suggest otherwise is insulting to him and his family.
All those experiences have affected how he’s looked at the world over the years. Deeds is flatly misrepresenting McD’s focus in the legislature. Only 2 percent of all his bills dealt with abortion and some of those were ones that had to be voted on year after year until it was passed.
Brought people together on welfare reform, drunk driving and the
environment. Contention that a 20 year old academic exercise represents an 18 year legislative career is ridiculous. Challenged reporters to contact anyone he served with for 14 years in the House of Del.
Taking on newspapers’ issues / statements.
Issue of sexual orientation. Gov’t should not discriminate on sex, race,
sexual orientation. Only thing he cared about in hiring someone for the
AG’s office was whether someone was qualified, hard working and honest.
His AG office policy was published in an RTD op-ed in 2006.
Followed the law. In 2007, wrote an opinion that same sex partners were permitted to use UVA facilities under the law.
Believes marriage should be reserved to be between one man and one woman.
Supported constitutional amendment. Also supports that the constitutional rights of EVERY Virginian be protected.
Fully supportive of women in the workplace. Wife works. Daughters work. His ’05 campaign manager is a working mother. Half of McD’s deputies in AG office were women. Half of senior staff in ’09 Gov. campaign are women.
Remind Sen. Deeds that his daughter had the hardest job a working woman can have — flying a blackhawk helicopter from Camp Victory all over Iraq.
Two parent families are the ideal way to raise children. Change in society with divorce rate reaching 51% in VA over the past decades. No fault divorce had just begun in early 1970s. Studies showed that it had led to an increase in divorces. Understands now that there are other ways in which married couples can be helped to stay together.
Voluntary concept called Covenant Marriage. LG Kaine testified in support of McD’s legislation. Advocated additional counseling before divorce. Does NOT advocate the repeal of no fault divorce.
Abortion. Been a pro-life legislator. Based on his Catholic faith.
Now taking questions.
Q — Wondering about — you were an adult when you wrote this 20 years ago. What would make people think you had changed?
A. — Look at an 18 year record and tens of thousands of votes. Most Virginians over the last 20 years have seen their views changed over the years. What better way to see what people will do in the future than to look at their legislative record. Real world experience and family experience, practical solutions to implement to help Virginians. Best evidence is that 90% of his bills dealt with bread and butter issues.
WTOP (Hank) Q — Why not repudiate everything you wrote 20 years ago?
A — Haven’t looked or read at the whole paper in 20 years. What is important are the positions he’s held as Del. and AG. Different today from back then — 18 years in office, seen his wife and daughter working and raised a family.
No fault divorce to contraception are areas where he differs today from the paper.
Chose the whole topic because these are issues Reagan was talking about.
Q — page 34 is it your belief that some forms of living arrangements are worthy of less protection under the law than others?
A — NO. Gov’t has no business with regard to cohabitation or living arrangements. Agrees w/ Reagan and Kaine that marriage is the bedrock of society. Gov’t should do what they can to keep families together. Worked w/ Gov. kaine, a fellow Catholic, to support Covenant Marriage. Supports Obama’s fatherhood initiative.
Gov’t has no business regulating other living arrangements.
Q — Mark Plotkin WTOP — In 2001, opposed a bill ending wage discrimination.
A. — Fully support equal pay between men and women. Voted against LOTS of resolutions that held no force.
Q — Plotkin — In fact, you are opposed to abortion in the case of rape or incest.
A — No. Never said that with regard to public policy. Work with everyone to reduce the number of abortions. Personal religious view is formed by his Catholic faith. Limited amount under federal law what can be done. Backwards looking scare tactic that Deeds is pushing. Ban on partial birth abortion supported by 80 percent of people.
Will promote adoption. Will promote fatherhood. Enforce informed consent law. Make sure women are provided with information before they make their choice. Limited number of things that can be done under the law.
Q — Against capital punishment as well?
A — Struggled with that. Church’s official position is to oppose it except in limited circumstances. Over many years have struggled with it. Went to see an execution 13 years ago. Horrific experience. Vengence not the duty of the gov’t. Came to the decision that for the most heinous types of crimes that it was the proper duty of the gov’t in limited circumstances to mete it out. Takes no pleasure in it, but in limited circumstances it is appropriate. Worked as a prosecutor.
Q — How come you haven’t gone back and read the whole paper?
A — Because this election is not about a 20 year old academic thesis. Because some people in the press or Sen. Deeds is itnersted in it doesn’t mean others are. Travelled the state for last 2 years. People care about the economy, jobs, card check, etc. Didn’t know it was an issue until a few days ago. Looked through it then. What is important is not what he wrote in 1989, but what he has done in the past 18 years in the leg. and as AG and what are his proposals as Gov. Honest with what he will do. Ran for AG, said there were 7 things he would do. Accomplished all in first 2 years. Introduced 105 pieces of leg., passed 92, none were on abortion. Deeds and his supporters are free to go through this. McD will spend next 64 days talking to voters about the things they care about. Deeds behind in the polls. All of the many “Virginians for Warner” supporting McD. Prominent Dems supporting him.
Q — Did you find any of your old opinions outrageous? Working women?
A — I think it was evaluating a trend in the culture, 30 years of a change in policy, any indication that he gave the impression that he opposed women in the workplace is wrong. Major societal changes between the 50s and 80s. Look at debates in the 80s. Simply saying it was a fact that there was more welfare, more two parent working families and that society has changed and then looking at the impact. Fully supports talented women in the workforce. Insulted by Sen. Deeds that he does not support women in the workforce — daughter in Iraq dodging bullets in Iraq. Ridiculous and insulting.
Q — Bob barner FOX 5 — Wife and daughter influenced his thoughts. Any gays that he knows that has influenced his thought on gay marriage?
A — Not on the issue of marriage. Marriage amendment — domestic violence laws, contacts, wills, etc. were not affected by it. No complaints that any civil liberties were effected. 2007 AG opinion — fully permissible for unmarried or same-sex couples to have membership in UVA gym. Followed the law. AG office did not discriminate on ANY basis. 2006 RTD op-ed.
Q — How do you reconcile with Askew case?
A — WashPo summary of Askew case was incorrect. Documents will be sent to reporters to follow up. If complaints or issues were brought up in advance, those would be brought up in a hearing. After hearing, number of things brought to cmte. members that made them think Judge Askew should not be reappointed. Some things were not answered honestly in the questionnaire. Questions of temperment. Evidence of sexual harassment claim that Judge Askew had been accused of by an employee. Settled for $64K by City of Hampton. WashPo article said Judge was never found guilty in court — true, but only because it was settled out of court. McD never brought up sexual orientation. Vote demonstrated that Sen. Dick Saslaw voted against her. Top Cmte. Dem Sen. Janet Howell voted against Askew. Saslaw — what went on in there was as fair as can be. Quote attributed to McD was not correct. At the time, there was a law in VA before a S. Ct. decision, acts of sodomy were punishable as a felony. If someone who was a judge were convicted of a felony that would be a factor as to whether they would be reappointed. Quoted that homosexualtiy was not an issue, believe that there were already homosexuals on the bench. Only cares about whether they would follow the law. Original story was incorrect. WashPo did not do good reporting. Testimony and demeanor and settled sexual harassment claim were the issues. McD was on the same side as Saslaw and Janet Howell.
Q — Plotkin — VA state bd. of elections — voting rights. Student lists a dorm as their address.
A — McD introduced legislation to make it more clear as to who can vote, especially with regard to students and military. Issue wasn’t so much as a dorm. Bigger issue of domicilary intent. Try to address the larger issue of confusion among registrars who had different views. Wanted a uniform policy. Glad that this has been established and a dorm can be considered.
Q — Eric Leefelt — Two quotes in the paper. First (pg 13) family is an institution antecedent to civil gov’t and can’t be defined by it; (pg 14) gov’t restrained by God and the Constitution. Do you believe now that civil laws contradictory to Biblical law are not legitimate?
A — No. Based on his Catholic teaching, institution of the family goes back to the dawn of time, the Garden of Eden. Demonstrated through 18 years in office difference between personal views and what is permissible under the law. Civil authority has the ability to regulate marriage and divorce. Goes back to the early days in England where we got most of our laws. Regulated terms by which one can get into marriage and get divorced.
Whole goal is to find what are the programs within gov’t that will be able to support marriage, keep families together. That will cut down on social services expenses and welfare, etc. That is why he supports Obama’s fatherhood initiative. Thinks he’s on the right track with that.
Q — Christina from The Pilot — Some of the language in the paper shows a hostility towards people with different life experiences? Do you regret that?
A — Yes. His parents had some tough times when they were growing up, but knew that it was important for families to stay together. Impressed that upon him when he was growing up. Many places where the language would be much different today. On some of the issues of life, family and marriage, everyone from Tim Kaine to Ronald Reagan were right. Any language that denigrates the basic worth of any human being he regrets. Fully believes in equal justice under the law, civility, promoting people on their merits and their honesty. Go to any employee in the AG’s office and ask what kind of employer he was.
Thanks reporters. Felt that because there was interest by members of the press, he would address it. They had similar questions about Sen. Webb and Obama. Felt it was important to give these answers, even though they may not have addressed it with as much specificity as he did here. Disappointed with Deeds.
Deeds continues to focus on past presidents. Past governors. Divisive social issues.
McD will spend next 64 days speaking about jobs, economy, energy, education. More policies later this week on free enterprise and education. These are the issues people care about. Numerous phone calls and emails today saying they care more about what he will do over the next 4 years than what he wrote 20 years ago. 18 years of action shows exactly how he’ll govern.
That is precisely what the policy of Virginia Virtucon will be going forward as well. Reporters had their chance to ask numerous questions in an unfiltered format. Bob McDonnell offered them detailed responses. Some people will be satisfied, some people will not. That’s the way life is. So there is no need for us to bring this up any further.
In court, there is an objection, “Asked and answered.” Any further attempts to milk a 20-year old thesis for political gain should be objected to on those grounds. The voters will be the judge and something tells me that they’re more interested in what the candidates’ plans are for the future and how those will impact them. So far, only Bob McDonnell has put forth such a detailed agenda while Creigh “What’s In Your Wallet?” Deeds continues to masquerade as “Captain Me Too!”