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Congressmen Respond to Moran's JJ Speech

Tim Craig

Two Virginia Democratic congressmen indicated today they were uncomfortable with Brian Moran's attacks on Terry McAuliffe at the state party's Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner

Although he never mentioned McAuliffe by name, Moran took multiple swipes at McAuliffe.

When asked if Moran's criticisms of McAuliffe during the dinner were appropriate, U.S. Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va) replied: "Primaries can be hard fought and rough-in-tumble affairs and my own experience is trying to stay positive is the better course in the long run."

Connolly, who is neutral in the primary, declined further comment.

U.S. Rep. Robert C. "Bobby" Scott noted there was a smattering of boos when Moran stated during his speech, "We need a fighter, not a fundraiser."

"Did you hear the public reaction?" Scott asked. "McAuliffe, and to a certain extent, Deeds were positive, had a positive agenda and Moran when he gave his criticisms he got booed. Have you been to many JJ Dinners? Do you ever remember any speaker getting booed?" Scott added he hopes all three Democratic candidates will rally behind the eventual nominee.

But U.S. Rep. James P. Moran (D-Va.), said his brother, Brian, had "the right message."

"He is in it to win it," Jim Moran said about Brian. "I think that Brian needs to show he is willing to be assertive and clear about the fact he knows he's the best prepared person to lead the state. And if you believe that, its incumbent upon you to say it."

Jim Moran then noted that McAuliffe "played into Brian's message" by "trying to dominate the scene outside...with the parades and blocking traffic and signs on every light post."

"There is a time to play softball and a time to play hardball," Jim Moran said. "Now is the time to play hardball."

(Note: An earlier version of this post stated Connolly said Moran's remarks "may have went too far." Connolly was asked if Moran's remarks were too harsh. Connolly responded with the above quote but never said he thinks Moran went too far.)

By Tim Craig  |  February 9, 2009; 3:12 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Brian J. Moran , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig  
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Comments

It's kind of funny how Brian Moran says money isn't everything and how Jim Moran talks about softball versus hardball. I say it is funny because Brian Moran's largest contributor to date has been Jim Moran - with a $100,000 check to his brother, yet they bash McAuliffe for getting large contributions. I'm just trying to figure out where the Moran hypocrisy ends.

Moran's speech was incredibly negative towards Mcauliffe at a dinner where Democrats were trying to show unity. Nice job Brian Moran.

Thanks to Rep. Robert C. Scott and Rep. Gerald E. Connolly for calling him out.

Posted by: UVANick | February 9, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

What's more important here is that Brian Moran illustrated how passionate he was about standing up for working families and those who need our help. The fact that Brian has established a grassroots base and is willing to be held accountable to the voters isn't something that he should be ashamed of and I'm glad to see that he made those values known.

If Terry McAuliffe is a little embarrassed about the fact that he spent $70,000 on tickets to a fundraiser during a time when many Virginians are struggling to put food on the table, then that is an issue he should deal with on his own. He shouldn't use that embarrassment as an excuse to start a public argument with members of his own party.

Posted by: BryanScrafford | February 9, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"may have went too far"

???

Oh, Deb Howell, where have you GONE, just when the copy editors need a nudge?

Posted by: TeddySanFran | February 9, 2009 5:21 PM | Report abuse

We have a fascinating race for VA Governor. I had the opportunity to listen to all three candidates while attending the Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Richmond 2/7. Deeds came through as a well intentioned and good man. Moran is already sounding like a sore loser and his video stated that money does not matter and we need fighters, and not fundraisers. Tell that to the folks who have lost jobs and are not able to put food on the table! McAuliffe was very clear that he would never say anything negative against the other contenders, and said every one of them is a better candidate than McDonell. McAuliffe promised to work very hard to get new jobs and new investments to Virginia, to grow the economy and provide more resources to improve education, health care and transportation. Time will tell who is the winner, but for now it appears that McAuliffe is best organized and has the best feel for what Virginia now wants. He also appears to be the most qualified with the skills and experience we need to grow our economy.

Posted by: alankrishnan | February 9, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

It was impossible to get an honest gauge of the crowd's reaction to Moran's digs. How many people were simply going "ooooh" in surprise? And how many people were booing because Terry bought their dinner and bussed them in? To think the crowd spontaneously booed Moran is to think all those people spontaneously started chanting "those days are over."

Posted by: TheGreenMiles | February 9, 2009 6:08 PM | Report abuse

As an attendee at the recent Richmond JJ Dinner, I can tell you that there are only two serious contenders left in the race for Governor. Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds presented themselves as legitimate and viable candidates for the Commonwealth's top job, while Brian Moran came across as a whiney loser, attacking and flailing on his way down the tubes.

Does anybody remember the beginning of the end for the Hillary Clinton campaign for President? It was when she decided to go on the attack against Obama to win. While the attacks hardened her supporters' resolve, they also alienated enough Democratic party voters to assure she would not win. Same thing here. If Brian Moran thinks going negative will do anything but destroy the coalition we need to win in November, he has another thing coming. United we stand, divided we FAIL.

Posted by: nohorseinthisrace | February 9, 2009 7:01 PM | Report abuse

Interesting bit of retraction at the bottom of this piece - did King Connolly write that retraction for you? What did he threaten you with?

Posted by: FunnyStuff1 | February 10, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I love the reference to Hillary Clinton's campaign by FunnyStuff1 - and who was her campaign manager? Uh, Terry McAuliffe. The man who hired a band, threw himself a parade and orchestrated his own Greek Chorus from the back of the room, was involved in what way in Hillary's bashing of Obama during their heated primary race? People seem to have very short memories about McAuliffe's conduct during the presidential Democratic primary. Virginia is not for sale - the last time I checked anyway. More telling than those who boo'd Moran was the dead silence from everyone on the floor during McAuliffe's speech except for his orchestrated cheering section. I fully believe Moran was justified in calling out a candidate who is coming late to Virginia politics with a lot of cash to fund his political ambitions. Moran and Deeds have both WORKED for Virginians over the long term. Other than money, overblown rhetoric and theatrics, I fail to see what McAuliffe brings to this race.

Posted by: csread | February 14, 2009 6:03 PM | Report abuse

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