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GOP Target: Terry

Anita Kumar

Bob McDonnell never mentioned his Democratic rivals by name in his speech today officially accepting the Republican nomination for governor. He didn't have to.

Enough other prominent Republicans made it clear this weekend at the state GOP convention in Richmond that they think former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe will win the primary next month and compete against McDonnell in the general election.

Here's what U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the House minority and an all around popular guy at the convention, said about McAuliffe:

"He saw Virginia's governship pop up on ebay and he wants to buy it,'' he told more than 10,000 cheering Republicans. "We won't let him do that."

Pat Mullins, the newly elected chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, pretended to an answer a cell phone call from McAuliffe while welcoming 1,300 guests to the annual fundraising dinner Friday night that kicked off the convention.

McAuliffe, Mullins said, was calling from his limo while he was lost in Southwest Virginia with a broken GPS and a driver from California. He joked that McAuliffe didn't know any of the cities in the area and was just biding time until he could run for office in Florida or the Northeast.

Galax? "Why would you want to go (there) when you could have dinner with the Clintons in New York City?" Blacksburg? "They've got a good football team down there. I think Bob McDonnell can get you tickets to a game down there after he gets elected governor."

Okay. So it doesn't sound that funny now. But trust me, it was.

Even talk show host Sean Hannity, the darling of the convention, got into the act by mentioning how McAulliffe made millions off his small investment in Global Crossing before the company went bankrupt in 2002, leaving 10,000 employees out of work.

Meanwhile, McAuliffe released a statement about McDonnell today. "I'm proud of my experience and my record, but this weekend, Bob McDonnell, surrounded by Mitt Romney, Sean Hannity, and other Republicans has tried to reinvent his. They've all tried to hide his long divisive ideological record, and portray him as someone who now is a moderate. What they didn't tell Virginians is that Bob McDonnell has a partisan, right wing agenda."

McAuliffe's rivals, State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and former delegate Brian Moran, were left out of the Democrat bashing.

Deeds, who lost the attorney general race to McDonnell in 2005, also released a statement after McDonnell's speech that largely focused on energy.

"Bob McDonnell is trying to use energy politics to paint himself as a moderate,'' he said. "But Virginia needs a leader who will do more than just pay lip service to new sources of energy."

By Anita Kumar  |  May 30, 2009; 8:00 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Eric Cantor , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe  
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