Cuccinelli’s Communications Problem

by Maggie Gallagher

The always-worth-reading Sean Trende at RealClearPolitics has posted his analysis of Cuccinelli’s problem:

What [Virginia] won’t typically do is vote for a candidate who holds all of [Cuccinelli’s] positions, and is unapologetic in them. Truth be told, Virginia hasn’t been particularly fond of strident social conservatives for quite some time; Oliver North, Michael Farris, Mark Earley, and a host of other similar Republicans have met similar fates. The mold of a successful statewide Republican here has been John Warner, Jim Gilmore, and Bob McDonnell, all of whom would check most of the boxes on a conservative scorecard, but who also knew how to communicate those stances to your average suburban voter in a non-threatening way.

My response? Yes, it’s important to communicate values issues in a non-threatening way. Because otherwise your opponents will communicate your views in an extremely threatening way: wild charges of extremism, unresponded to by the candidate. That’s what is happening in Virginia right now.

Growing outrage over Obamacare just might pull Cuccinelli over the wire, and I will vote for him and urge every pro-life voter to do so. But Cuccinelli has been running behind ever since he decided to respond to the charges of War on Women extremism by changing the subject, or running positive soft-focus ads. An unrebutted charge tends to stick. Meanwhile the Democrats pay no price for their incredibly aggressive pro-abortion extremism. The best defense is a good offense.