McAuliffe touts his record as governor as he seeks to boost Dems

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, floated as a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2020, framed his tenure as governor as the kind of progressive model his party needs in the future as he addressed a friendly crowd Tuesday.

“Democrats have got to stand up and we’ve got to fight. We’re going to win elections — we are going to win the House this year, we’ve got a great battle to win the Senate, we have 36 governors’ races,” he told attendees at the Woman’s National Democratic Club in Washington, D.C.

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“You’ve got to lean in on the things we believe in. You’ve got to protect women, you’ve got to protect the environment, you’ve got to protect LGBT rights, you’ve stop the needless guns on our street today.”

McAuliffe pointed to his own record in Virginia of pushing back against anti-abortion rights measures, coming out in favor of gun control and same-sex marriage, as well as his push to restore voting rights to thousands of felons. With those stances, he argued, he proved he wouldn’t shy away from progressive values in a moderate state.

He went on to use those examples to argue for Democrats to remember the importance of gubernatorial elections, framing a Democratic governor as a firewall in a conservative or moderate state.

“I banned the box, I took away all these horrible things, but in 40 states, it’s automatic,” he said, referring to the removal questions on job applications asking whether an applicant has been arrested or convicted for a crime.

“In many of the southern states, it’s Jim Crow. Thats what this was all about. I knew this was going to be a difficult path, and I knew there would be consequences. But at the end of the day you have to fight for what you believe in, you have to fight on your values.”

McAuliffe is well-traveled in Democratic circles, having played an integral role in former President Clinton’s reelection campaign and then-Sen. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE’s (D-N.Y.) 2008 presidential bid. He also served as the chairman of the Democratic National Party in the mid-2000s, and later won the Virginia governor’s mansion in 2013.

Now, he’s playing a key role with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, which is working to help Democrats gain a better foothold in the 2021 redistricting process through legal action, grassroots engagement and backing Democratic candidates. The group is led by former Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderTrump official criticizes ex-Clinton spokesman over defunding police tweet Obama to speak about George Floyd in virtual town hall GOP group launches redistricting site MORE, and President Obama plans to devote time toward the group’s goals.

Democrats gave McAuliffe’s term in office favorable marks, particularly after he helped lead Democrats to big victories in the 2017 statewide elections. Since then, he has been floated as one of the many Democrats who could run against President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE in 2020. Those close to him told The Hill as early as last year that he has been “seriously” considering a bid, and he told CBS News last week that “if I ran, I’d beat” Trump.

McAuliffe, 61, didn’t directly address his presidential ambitions during his speech Tuesday, but he took clear aim at Trump. 

“We have a man in the White House today that has no moral core. He doesn’t believe in any issues, he believes what’s in the best interest for himself,” McAuliffe said.

“I will fight like a dog for things I believe in…we’ve got to take this country back.” 

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