My fellow Virginians,
We have a rare opportunity before us this November. For as long as any can remember, when contemplating our choice for governor — an office occupied by Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe — our candidates, their résumés, and their life experiences have been . . . normal: Former attorneys general. State legislators. Congressmen.
This year, we have a distinctly . . . abnormal option in Terry McAuliffe, the most successful political fundraiser in American history.
In McAuliffe — a man never elected to any public office at any level — we have a rare combination of skills and experience, detailed at great length, and with great humility, in his 2007 autobiography, What a Party! My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators, and Other Wild Animals.
Within these pages, with McAuliffe’s own words — or the words of his co-author, Steve Kettman — we see that indeed, in this candidate, we have a man to fit the moment.
It’s time for this commonwealth to have a governor who has had a wacky caricature of himself framed upon the wall at The Palm since 1980, marking his influence and stature among the lobbyists and power brokers who meet for steaks and martinis. It’s time for a governor who has spent his adult life rubbing shoulders with the powerful at Pamela Harriman’s house in Georgetown, and who has a regular table at Café Milano. It’s time for a governor who can tell the best stories about Walter Mondale and about the hookers at Walter Shorenstein’s mansion in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Let the candidate explain, in his own words, the role of a governor: “Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to raise money for a governor. They have all kinds of business to hand out, road contracts, construction jobs, you name it.”
As he proudly boasts when discussing the time a casino owner demanded he go up and sing on a stage for a donation, “For $500,000 I don’t mind humiliating myself for five minutes.”
You see, Virginians? Standards.
You see, Terry McAuliffe worked his first fundraiser at the age of six. He’s proven to be a groundbreaking innovator in the world of raising money, not merely by writing the infamous White House memo that set up Bill Clinton’s coffees with donors at the White House, but by shooting a commercial on the QVC home-shopping channel in front of the Pennsylvania Avenue reviewing stand, selling Inauguration memorabilia.
You see, Virginians? Class.
A menu from his fundraiser on May 24, 2000, was put into the Smithsonian Institution, after he raised $26.3 million in one night.
Inexperience? Pshaw. Terry McAuliffe has turned down jobs that would have looked quite impressive to Virginia’s electorate. In 2000, at a late-night card-playing session at the White House, his wife suggested to President Clinton that McAuliffe would make an excellent Secretary of Commerce, a position Bill Daley had recently departed. But John Podesta, the president’s chief of staff, expressed worries about “sending the President’s buddy and biggest fund-raiser in the party though a confirmation hearing right before the 2000 presidential election.”