In the aftermath of Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe’s big blunder during that late September debate where he admitted “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” I speculated on how it could prove to be a pivotal turning point in a race he was previously considered to be a shoo-in to win a second (non-consecutive) term.
Indeed, that’s exactly what has happened, as the polls have not merely tightened; they now show both McAuliffe and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin in a dead heat with a little over a week to go before Election Day. Making matters worse for McAuliffe have been the astonishing double downs on his comments, and the near-daily signals both he and his campaign have been sending which prove just how desperate they’ve become.
And the hits just keep on coming, brought on by McAuliffe himself as evidenced by an absolutely insane summer 2019 response from him that has just resurfaced, which shows the former governor being asked during a Hudson Union Society event in New York City about what he thought of current Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal, which Northam admitted to and then backtracked on, six months after it happened.
I’ve transcribed it, but you really need to watch the short clip below the transcript through to the end and see the facial expressions and body language from McAuliffe just to get the full cringe effect. Even the audience seemed shocked at a certain point:
Interviewer: “Are you comfortable with the present Governor, who appeared in blackface next to somebody dressed up as Ku Klux Klan, the Democratic Governor?”
McAuliffe: [appearing surprised at the question] “Yeah, well he didn’t do Ku Klux Klan in fairness –” [raises hand as the interviewer interrupts him]
Interviewer: “No, I’m saying he’s in blackface next to somebody that is dressed up in –”
McAuliffe: [shakes his head and animatedly gestures to the interviewer] “Yeah, but that wasn’t him, either. It’s now come out he wasn’t either one of them. But he made a horrible mistake Friday night when he [pauses] didn’t know if he was in it or not and said, ‘well, I apologize –‘”
[interviewer interrupts again]
Interviewer: “How do you not know if it’s not you?”
McAuliffe: [Confidently nodding] “Oh we know in Virginia.” [awkward silence and then a smattering of laughter is heard from the crowd as McAuliffe has unintentionally made himself look like a flailing comedian] “I mean I know – listen, even if it had been him in the blackface, [casually shrugs] you know, it was a dumb mistake 40 years ago. [Puts hand on heart as if to demonstrate sincerity] “I grew up in New York, and all fairness folks, [nervous chuckle] I didn’t know what blackface was. You know, I did not experience – we had no racism issues, honestly, growing up in Syracuse…”
Maximum. Cringe. I am not exaggerating in the slightest. Watch:
— Team Youngkin (@TeamYoungkin) October 22, 2021
For the record, on the day the scandal broke, McAuliffe called on Northam to immediately resign.
The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It's time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward.
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 2, 2019
“The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It’s time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward,” McAuliffe then urged the embattled Governor at the time.
The best choreography award goes to Ralph Northam, incredibly still Governor of VA, who was a second away from doing a moonwalk during a blackface apology press conference.
This is apparently the second award Northam’s moonwalking has received. #Oscars
— Retired Orrin G. Hatch (@RetiredOrrin) February 25, 2019
I wrote yesterday about how even if Terry McAuliffe bought a new cringe-meter to replace the one that already exploded, the new one likely would have exploded by now, too. Well, I think it’s safe to say that it has indeed exploded.
I don’t know who dug up this video (likely Youngkin’s campaign) but in my opinion, the release of it was brilliant and perfectly timed. This potentially could be the next pivotal point in this race and further turn the tide against McAuliffe.
Though black voters in the state, for the most part, appear to have forgiven Northam and have moved on, seeing McAuliffe so casually dismissive of Northam’s most shameful moment as his state’s CEO and then proclaim that there were no racism issues in Syracuse when he was growing up when we know that’s not true could have the effect of rubbing just enough black voters the wrong way. This could prove catastrophic for McAuliffe considering this race is coming down to the wire.
Will McAuliffe be asked about his comments by local reporters? If so, will he stomp off in a huff as he did earlier this week when he cut an interview short because he thought the reporter “should have asked better questions”?