Cuccinelli Tries to Fire up Va. Conservative Base

Julie Carey/NBC4

Republican Ken Cuccinelli tried to energize his conservative base Saturday with just days before voters choose between him and Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe to become the next governor of Virginia.

Cuccinelli warned supporters that McAuliffe would be a threat to the state's coal miners, a backer of unions and beholden to out-of-state supporters. With time ticking down toward Tuesday's election, Cuccinelli is working to inspire every last supporter in an election that could include as few as 30 percent of registered voters.

"Just because people agree with us doesn't mean they're going to vote,'' Cuccinelli told volunteers at a campaign office near Richmond. "This is what nagging is for.''

Polls show McAuliffe leading and campaign finance reports show him vastly outspending Cuccinelli on campaign advertising. That has left Cuccinelli leaning on his deeply conservative base to narrow McAuliffe's lead and perhaps overtake him in a come-from-behind finish.

"We've got the momentum,'' Cuccinelli said to applause. "Unfortunately, the to-do list is always longer than the calendar.''

McAuliffe, meanwhile, was campaigning with Sen. Tim Kaine at stops throughout Virginia. He made stops in Fairfax and Charlottesville and planned an afternoon stop in Norfolk, home of the world's largest naval station.

McAuliffe has worked to link Cuccinelli to tea party Republicans who insisted on mandatory budget cuts that hit the Navy and the more recent government shutdown that impacted the state's 172,000 civilian workers. Cuccinelli's poll numbers sank in the wake of the 16-day partial government shutdown.

Trying to shift the focus, Cuccinelli has made his opposition to the federal health care a centerpiece of his strategy. Cuccinelli, the current attorney general, was the first to file a lawsuit to block the law and has worked to tie McAuliffe to it.

"I'm scared of Obamacare. They're scared of what Obamacare is doing to Terry McAuliffe,'' Cuccinelli said of Democrats.

Cuccinelli also sought to scare supporters to action by saying McAuliffe would be a threat to the state's coal mines and would push pro-union legislation. Cuccinelli added that McAuliffe's emphasis on green energy would come at the expense of coal miners in the southern stretches of the state.

"In Virginia, this is a war on the poor,'' Cuccinelli said.

Cuccinelli said scaling back coal in the southern part of the state would be akin to eliminating federal workers in the northern reaches near Washington.

"What if we just outlawed federal contracting?'' Cuccinelli said to cheers from the tea party-heavy crowd.

He also said out-of-state efforts were stacked against him, including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California-based environmentalist Tom Steyer. The two combined have aired more than $3 million in ads criticizing Cuccinelli.

"We've got the New York City billionaire. We've got the San Francisco billionaire,'' Cuccinelli said. "Their whole campaign has been about lying and destroying me as best they can.''

Cuccinelli said voters should consider one question when they cast their ballot on Tuesday: "What has Terry McAuliffe said he's going to do for you in the next four years? Can you name anything?''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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