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White House 'scandals' may nix McAuliffe's momentum

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Inasmuch that the White House suddenly finds itself besieged by scandal after scandal after scandal, however truly scandalous they may or may not be, consider the trickle-down fallout.

Specifically, consider Virginia’s race for governor between Terry McAuliffe (D) and Ken Cuccinelli (R), with the election fewer than six months away.

Various polls have McAuliffe gaining ground on the ultra-conservative Cuccinelli the past couple of weeks, but one has to wonder whether the revelations of the past several days that have put President Obama on the defensive will do likewise for McAuliffe.

Said political talk-show host Chris Matthews of Cuccinelli on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program Wednesday: “This is his ticket right now.”

In partial agreement is University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth, who points to what he believes is the obvious -- but also is quick to add a qualifier.

“I think that drumbeat of scandal coming out of the White House, it definitely could create a problem for Democratic candidates this year,” Farnsworth says. “Even so, understand, there aren’t going to be that many connections between the Obama administration and the McAuliffe campaign – McAuliffe is much more of a Clinton person than an Obama person.”

McAuliffe was – and remains – a close friend and advisor to former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“But the reality is that Democrats are on the defensive with all these problems,” Farnsworth says, “and when you start having to distance yourself and separate yourself from your party, that’s a problem.”

In case you’ve lost track of the so-called scandals, here’s a refresher:

• The Department of Justice, looking for sources of leaks, seized phone records of Associated Press reporters related to a failed al-Qaeda plot without the organization’s knowledge.
• A criminal investigation has been launched regarding whether the IRS singled out conservative groups for extra scrutiny.
• Republicans continue to lead the charge for more answers about the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi that left four Americans dead, including the ambassador. 

Farnsworth sees similarities between what’s going on now and what went on early in the second term of the previous administration, when the Iraq effort began to rupture at the seams and all manner of “scandals” flooded forth.

And with McAuliffe being a Democrat, it’s guilt by association.

“It was a problem for Republicans when George W. Bush was president,” Farnsworth says, “and increasingly it’s looking to be a problem for Democrats if these scandals keep mounting with the disclosures of the AP phone records and if the Benghazi situation continues to worsen and, of course, the IRS and the Tea Party.

“It might not necessarily hurt McAuliffe but it certainly won’t help him.”

 

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