Clinton Fundraising Around Country for 'Virginia Outsider' McAuliffe

Terry McAuliffe and Bill Clinton 2000 / AP
February 27, 2013

Former President Bill Clinton is hitting the national fundraising circuit in support of Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Clinton will be headlining a McAuliffe fundraiser on March 13 at the New York City home of hedge-fund billionaire Marc Lasry. The event is being co-hosted by former Clinton aide Douglas Band, according to an invitation acquired by the New York Daily News.

Clinton will head down to Florida on March 5 for a McAuliffe fundraiser hosted by Democratic heavyweight John Morgan, who like McAuliffe was a bundler for President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. Morgan raised more than $2.6 million to reelect Obama.

Clinton’s participation in McAuliffe’s campaign comes as no surprise. The race against Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is tightening, and in many ways Clinton is just returning the fundraising favor.

McAuliffe has been a longtime fundraiser for the Democrats, and his leadership as the party’s fundraising machine has made him a close Clinton friend. The friendship was probably strengthened when he raised $26.5 million during a 2000 tribute gala to celebrate the end of Clinton’s second term.

The slew of out-of-state fundraisers seems to play into the hands of Cuccinelli, who has been trying to frame McAuliffe as a "Virginia Outsider."

Cuccinelli framed the race in an interview with Newsmax Magazine, as one between a born-and-bred Virginian and a Washington insider.

"Of all things the Washington Post has identified him: ‘…Terry McAuliffe is a Washington insider.’ But the Post went further and called him a Virginia outsider. And he is," said Cuccinelli. "By contrast, I went to school here, grew up here, my wife did, we’re raising our family here. Those roots matter."

McAuliffe has previously been finance director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, chairman of the Democratic National Convention, finance chairman for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign, and chairman for Clinton’s 1997 Presidential Inaugural Committee.

But a rundown of his experience in Virginia politics includes only an unsuccessful 2009 gubernatorial bid, where state Sen. Creigh Deeds defeated him by more than 20 points in the Democratic primary.

The big-ticket fundraisers will certainly bring in big money for the campaign, but they may add to questions about McAuliffe’s commitment to Virginia.

The Cuccinelli campaign has put McAuliffe’s feet to the fire regarding the decision to open a plant for his electric car company, GreenTech Automotive, in Mississippi even though the company is headquartered in Virginia.

"Given that Terry McAuliffe was the Chairman of GreenTech, he only has himself to blame for creating jobs in Mississippi that could have been created in Virginia," said David Rexrode, campaign manager for Cuccinelli.

McAuliffe claimed that opening a plant in Virginia was his first choice but the state told him it was not interested.

However, mail records show that the decision to follow through with the Mississippi plant was made long before Virginia officials even had a chance to respond, making McAuliffe’s claims completely false.