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Moran and McAuliffe Camps Trade Charges

Tim Craig

The first skirmish has developed between the campaign teams of Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and Terry McAuliffe, both potential Democratic candidates for governor next year.

Mo Elleithee, a senior McAuliffe advisor, sent out a statement today condemning what he calls Moran's "surprisingly negative" tone when it comes to McAuliffe's potential candidacy. Earlier today, Jesse Ferguson, a Moran spokesman, sent out a statement titled "Virginians Respond to McAuliffe Candidacy." Ferguson's memo included snippets of recent editorials and columns that have been written about McAuliffe, including a Richmond Times Dispatch column comparing McAuliffe to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R).

Last week, when McAuliffe announced he will spend the next two months deciding on whether he plans to formally enter the race, Moran's campaign took a swipe at the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee by noting Florida Democrats had encouraged him to run for governor in that state in 2005.

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), also a candidate for the nomination, took a softer approach, welcoming McAuliffe into the race.

"Brian Moran and his campaign have been spending a curiously large amount of time focused on someone who's not even a declared candidate for governor yet and their tone has been surprisingly negative," Elleithee said. "I've known Brian Moran for a long time, and I know he's a better Democrat than that. Terry McAuliffe is focused on having a conversation with and listening to what Virginians have to say as he decides whether or not to run for governor. He is saving his criticism for Bob McDonnell, not great Democrats like Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds. We hope that both of them and their campaigns follow the same approach."

Ferguson responded by accusing Elleithee, a former advisor to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY.), of engaging in the same tactics against Moran that the Clinton campaign used during the primaries against President-Elect Barack Obama.

"This is the same thing they tried to use on Senator Obama," Ferguson said. "When the press raises questions about their qualifications, they try to blame the other candidate. We didn't compare Terry McAuliffe to Sarah Palin, columnists and opinion writers did."

Ferguson also said, "There was nothing in our memo that was negative from our campaign...If they have problems with what these writers have said, they should take it up with the authors."

In an interview, Elleithee declined to directly address Ferguson's charge about Clinton's tactics against Obama.

"We'll let the voters pass judgment on the negativity," Elleithee said. "Terry is never going to say a bad word about Brian or Creigh."

By Tim Craig  |  November 17, 2008; 3:57 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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TO: ''
Subject: Terry

No offence but he should let Moran run and win. Besides being a crook and my having to testify to the Star Committee about your husband’s actions as a fundraiser and other items he will be chewed up in downstate Virginia. Until recently I was the only campaign manager who knocked off incumbents in the house and state senate. Have know your husband since before I was sent in to manage Hugh Rodham's US Senate Campaign and to keep him out of jail :-). He should spend the money on a good bench mark poll first. It will show he does not stand a prayer. Those are the facts.

Mike Copperthite

p.s. please remove me from your mailing list.

Posted by: teamsimple | November 18, 2008 6:53 AM | Report abuse

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