The Democratic Party of Virginia has launched an ad attacking Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli over his stance on the Violence Against Women Act, the latest attempt to win over female voters for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in this year’s governor’s race.
The ad, which was released Friday afternoon and can be seen above, criticizes Cuccinelli for not signing a letter to Congress to renew the bill.
“When Congress failed to renew the Violence Against Women Act, Republican and Democratic attorneys general from 47 states spoke out to protect women,” says the ad’s female narrator. “But Ken Cuccinelli refused.”
The ad also quotes an April 2012 editorial from the Roanoke Times.
“The Roanoke Times wrote, ‘Virginians should remember Cuccinelli’s cowardly inaction as he seeks to become the next governor,’” the narrator says. “One either stands for tougher punishments for sexual assaults or not.”
Cuccinelli was one of three attorneys general who did not sign the letter. He came under fire from Democrats at the time, but his office said it was policy for the attorney general not to sign letters of support for federal legislation that was still subject to amendment.
The Violence Against Women Act was criticized by Republicans, who didn’t want to extend the law’s protections to same-sex couples.
Cuccinelli has yet to take a public stance on the law.
But in a statement from his campaign, Cuccinelli said the attack was unsurprising.
“As a father of five girls, I am deeply disappointed but not the least bit surprised that Terry McAuliffe and the Democrat Party would be willing to go to such great lengths to distort the truth,” he said in the statement. “I've spent my entire career standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, including women victimized by domestic abuse and sexual predators.”
In a conference call to preempt the ad before it was released, the Cuccinelli campaign organized a conference call with members of his Women’s Coalition, who praised his past experience and record.
Fairfax County School Board Member Elizabeth Schultz (Springfield District) applauded Cuccinelli as an advocate for Virginians with mental illness.
“You simply cannot put Ken Cuccinelli in a box,” Schultz said. “He has taken on causes and issues that may not have been politically advantageous for him … because he knew that they were the right thing to do.”
Democrats have also attacked Cuccinelli for his views on abortion and women’s rights. But Cuccinelli countered Friday with his work at the University of Virginia, before, according to him, he was even a Republican.
Cuccinelli founded a group at the university to raise awareness for sexual assault after a friend of his was attacked.
“I expected my opponents to engage in petty and false attacks, but this new ad is simply beyond the pale,” he said in the statement. “I will never stop fighting to protect Virginia's women and children from violence, and it's ludicrous to think otherwise.”
Cuccinelli and McAuliffe are scheduled to face off in the first debate of the election on Saturday, July 20, at The Homestead resort in Hot Springs, Va.