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Deeds Camp: Our Phones Are Ringing Off the Hook

Rosalind Helderman

* Update: McDonnell: Women Support Me *

Bob McDonnell's graduate school thesis has the "potential to really change the dynamics of this race."

That's the claim (and hope) of Creigh Deeds's communications director, Mike Gehrke, and senior adviser Mo Elleithee, who just held a media call to talk about how they think the thesis is relevant to the race. Is there interest in the story? Judging by the media list who listened in to the call, which included everyone from CNN to Amy Walter of Hotline, absolutely.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook," Elleithee said. "Our e-mail box is filing up. People are wanting to know how they can get more engaged in the race. People are coming up to the campaign office and our canvassers and the candidate and asking how they can help because the stakes are too high."

As the story spreads through the viral world of the Internet, we still have radio silence today from the McDonnell campaign.

The Republican Party of Virginia is saying the thesis is a decades-old academic paper and Deeds Country is using it to "inject divisive social issues into the campaign."

"McDonnell wrote the paper as a graduate student at a time before the fall of the Berlin Wall and before many of those eligible to vote in this November's election were even born," writes spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

They compare it with a 1979 Atlantic Magazine article written by Jim Webb in which he questioned women's ability to fight in the military. They say it's hypocritical for Democrats to want to make an issue of McDonnell's thesis when in 2006 they dismissed the importance of Webb's decades-old article. (Of course, Republicans in 2006 were just as insistent that the article was absolutely relevant.)

Deeds strategists argue that the thesis was not just an academic term paper, but a blueprint for governing that McDonnell pursued once he entered public life.

"Bob McDonnell spent the next two decades, beginning months after he wrote this thesis, spent the next two decades legislating point for point what he wrote in this thesis," Elleithee said.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 31, 2009; 11:40 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Next: McDonnell: Women Support Me


McDonnell was an older graduate student when he wrote the thesis: 34 years old to be exact. Judging from his votes as a delegate, most of which were offensive towards women, minorities, the poor, gays and lesbians, he has not changed his views. He must NOT become Virginia's governor.

Posted by: habaneronegrito1 | August 31, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

It seems to me that the Deeds camp is already grasping for straws. A decades old thesis paper is not relevant.

habaneronegrito1 - "...he has not changed his views." The article doesn't even mention what the thesis was on. Probably on "The sexuald perversion of computerized robots" or something like that. Oh wait, that would have been a Jim Webb thesis.

Posted by: ahashburn | August 31, 2009 1:30 PM | Report abuse

Bob McDonnell's blueprint is an extremely relevant election issue because of the General Assembly's recent divisive battles over these issues. Even McDonnell's ally from Loudoun County, Bob Marshall says the blueprint is still what Republicans are about. Bob McDonnell's own legislative record shows 35 bills that he sponsored to curtail a woman's right to have an abortion. Voters need to understand that Bob McDonnell's highest priority will be this religious right agenda that he has lifted straight from Pat Robertson.

Posted by: Viewpoint2 | August 31, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

This article is fairly useless to readers without some clue about what was in the thesis! Sloppy journalism, Helderman.

Whatever the non-politically-correct remarks were, they could be no worse than the blatant racism in Michele Obama's college thesis, or the "black-and-white" manifesto espoused by both Obamas at their church right before they began campaigning.

No worse than Jim Webb's horrible published porn.

Mo Elleithee should focus on issues, and not be such a garbage hound.

Posted by: admceditor | August 31, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

At least we can read this 18 year old thesis and compare to McDonnell's current thoughts and recent actions.

We are still unable to read the Thesis of President Obama. Can anyone explain that please?? Have you looked at his "special appointments" lately?

McDonnell is the better choice for Virginia at this critical time.

Posted by: independantlady | August 31, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

McDonnell has an extensive record of votes and policy positions. Going back to his grad student days is quite a reach.
I can understand the desperation of the Democrat candidate, particularly as he drops even further behind here in No. VA.
McDonnell advocates the sort of mainstream, centrist positions which have been voiced and voted by Republicans here in Virginia.
Mr. Deeds needs to explain his differences with his party including Hillary Clinton, Howard Dean and Terry McAuliffe.
Charges about "religious right" and Pat Robertson are smoke rather than light and they tell you nothing about McDonnell's policies. They are just distractions aimed at deflecting further examination of Mr. Deeds' extreme positions.

Posted by: jlaff | August 31, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like the WaPo (and the floundering Deeds campaign) is looking for a "macaca" moment. Sadly for them, they have not found it here. Are we supposed to be concerned that a conservative man wrote a conservative thesis and has plans to govern as a conservative? Bring it on! I, and many others like me, are more than ready for principled leadership.

Posted by: novamomx4 | August 31, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Old McDonnell will be put out to pasture. This one's over folks. Nobody in their correct mind (notice I didn't say right) would vote for him.

Posted by: anarcho-liberal-tarian | August 31, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

If Obama's 20 year close relationship with racist and church "preacher" of hate Jeremiah Wright as well as his friendship with known terrorist Bill Ayers is not relevant - then this thesis should be irrelevant as well...

Posted by: NO-bama | August 31, 2009 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else we know write a book where he claims to be a british citizen? Nah, that couldn't possibly be relevant.

Posted by: PDStar1 | August 31, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what is sadder. Deeds trying to use a 20 year old master's thesis to override McDonnell's years of an established legislative record or the WashPo getting dragged into this in order to try and appear relevant and make this election something other than a runaway victory for McDonnell.

Oh, my! McDonnell actually espoused GOP positions consistent with the Reagan administration, said that the tax code should encourage, not discourage, strong families and supported covenant marriage just as Gov. Kaine did when he was LG. The difference is, Kaine came out in support of it 4 years ago while McDonnell came out in support of it 20 years ago.

Posted by: JTR555 | August 31, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Several commenters have written something like this, so I thought I would help out with the answer:

["The article doesn't even mention what the thesis was on. Probably on "The sexuald perversion of computerized robots" or something like that. Oh wait, that would have been a Jim Webb thesis. Posted by: ahashburn | August 31, 2009 1:30 PM]

The title, topic, and contents of the McDonnell thesis, which is a thoughtful but extremely conservative game plan for Republican law-making on family issues, and which was subsequently followed by McDonnell once in office, can be found in the Page A1 article in the Post on Sunday August 30. Yesterday's Post also provided a link to a PDF of the entire thesis -- every last word.

Here are the links:

The Page A1 article about the thesis. Please note in reading the article that McDonnell himself told the Post about the thesis, proudly. This was not opposition research. This was an unforced error by McDonnell. Here's that link:

The thesis itself (the whole darn thing) as a PDF:

Now may I shock the Republican readers who are asking this for a moment and say this: I agree with them on something.

When the Post has a "follow-up" incremental story like this, it should NOT assume that every last person in the universe read the original story, even if it was a really big story that ran the day before. My goodness, this is August! People are outdoors, not perusing the website!

In the future, why not include the links in a sort of "breadcrumb trail" back to the original article? Otherwise, readers who are drawn in to this little update story have no way of getting the big picture and are left to guess about it.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | August 31, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

The 93-page research paper, first revealed in Sunday's Washington Post, articulated an extremist-Christian conservative worldview that criticized "cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators" and described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family...

I hope this further underscores the difference between progressive Democrats (like Creigh Deeds) who represent hope for all Americans -- and backward Republicans (like Bob McDonnell) who represent slave plantation mentalities.

Remember to get out and VOTE! --Make a difference...

"The work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream will never die."

Posted by: ost123 | August 31, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

And "radio silence"? Are you kidding me?

What do you call two press releases from RPV and a Women for McDonnell press release plus a conference call with the media today?

Posted by: JTR555 | August 31, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

One question for all you Deedsbots.

What specific policies is Deeds advocating that he did not copy for Bob McDonnell? Just answer that. Why can't Creigh run a positive, issue-oriented campaign? Perhaps it is because he has no original ideas and he is only running because he is sore that he lost the AG race in 2005. Not exactly a reason to run for Gov.

It is becoming more obvious by the day that Deeds is not running for Gov. in order to DO something, he is running for Gov. in order to BE someone. Sad.

By the way, has anyone seen what Deeds may have written as a law student or an undergrad? He must have SOME papers other than the Sunday funnies...

Posted by: JTR555 | August 31, 2009 2:32 PM | Report abuse

I believe that the thesis is a moderately well-written (for a college sophomore, not really for a graduate student, but let's be kind) statement of McDonnell's views, views that he still believes in today.

I disagree with these views quite vehemently, and indeed I believe that a fairly large majority of Virginia's voters disagree with them as well. But he has adhered to these beliefs throughout his career in government, and the early reflex of his campaign to try to disavow them as "youthful indiscretions" may be wise.

McDonnell is now left between a rock and a hard place. He would certainly have preferred that his extreme right-wing views, particularly as regards the role of women in modern society, remain hidden. Now that they have become widely public, and becoming better known with each passing minute, he finds himself with the Hobson's choice of attempting to issue a transparently disingenuous disavowal of his religiously held beliefs, which will be recognized as dishonest and hypocritical and which risks his base of support among the unctuous and unusually unforgiving evangelicals, or he can embrace his views and lose the election because most Virginians, particularly in densely populated and high-turnout Northern Virginia, do not share them.

This is why it is hard to get any kind of response from his campaign today. They haven't figured out which might prove the lesser of the two evils McDonnell faces.

I never saw the Deeds campaign as failing in any event. His campaign has hardly even begun -- I have yet to see a televised spot on Washington area television or hear one on the radio. A couple of weeks before the primary he was trailing his opponents badly, but he closed the gap once he actually began to campaign. I had always thought that he would repeat that pattern in the general election, but now it appears as if Deeds may not only win, he may win going away and have long coattails that might return both houses of the legislature back into Democratic hands.

It is interesting that, the better you get to know Democrats, the more likely you are to vote for them, while the better you get to know Republicans, the less likely.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | August 31, 2009 2:38 PM | Report abuse

Maybe McDonnell can change party's.

After all, lib--turds have been re-electing Robert Byrd for 50 years and he was a Wizard in the KKK.

And look at the hoop-la over Kennedy dying. He was directly responsible for killing a woman.

McDonnell could end up being the longest serving dimoCRAP just a Kennedy and Byrd were/are if he plays his cards right.

Since McDonnell never acted on his thought he may have a tough time fitting in with those who actually have lynched and killed but it's worth a shot. He probably just needs to go out and kill someone.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | August 31, 2009 2:43 PM | Report abuse

"Sounds like the WaPo (and the floundering Deeds campaign) is looking for a "macaca" moment."

The "macaca" moment didn't become one until after the elections when it became known that George Allen lost.

We'll all have to wait till Nov to see if this turns out to be a game-changer. Given Deeds' campaign so far, I'm not very hopeful.

Posted by: Gaithersburg1 | August 31, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

How short does the Post believe its readers memories are? The weekend hit piece on Bob McDonnell was taken directly from a statement issued by DNC national spokesman Hari Sevugan, barely bothering to edit Sevugan's copy. Compare and contrast with the information the Washington Post neglected to provide on Barack Obama when he was running for the Presidency:
Occidental College records -- Not released; Columbia University records -- Not released; Columbia University thesis -- Not released; Harvard College records -- Not released; Harvard Law Review articles -- None (perhaps 1, unsigned, and he was the editor). Harvard Law School records -- Not released.
Some difference.

Posted by: LaLydia | August 31, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Okay, a paper you write for English Lit. 301 might have nothing to do with politics, but that's not what this is.

Bob McDonnell not only wrote this for a slate of even further-right nutjobs at Regent ("CBN U"), he wrote it as a political platform - the words "policy" and "Republican" are mixed right in there with "family" "homosexuals" and "contraception" just to name a few.

As a Christian myself, I wish Bob McDonnell had the maturity to distinguish between his own personal (radical) views and good public policy. He clearly does not. I'm voting Deeds.

Posted by: antoniomelias | August 31, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

If Obama's 20 year close relationship with racist and church "preacher" of hate Jeremiah Wright as well as his friendship with known terrorist Bill Ayers is not relevant - then this thesis should be irrelevant as well...

Posted by: NO-bama | August 31, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

We've seen what happens when graduates of the Pat Robertson's extremist right wing "Christian" law school get into government. They tried to take over the Justice Department and make evangelical Christianity a pre-requisite for Federal employment.

I'm so tired of Republicans insisting that they alone have a god-given right to tell me how to live a 'Moral" life.

Keep extremist religious whackos out of government.

Posted by: thebobbob | August 31, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Of course theres media interest.... ITS A REPUBLICAN!

As for "thebobbob" sayin that the GOP has a right to tell you how to live a "moral" life. Have you noticed that Obama is trying to control your like 100 times more.

Besides, Glad to see you admit that the Democrat party admits that they could care less what kind of life people lead :).

Posted by: vrbjunk | August 31, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

OK, let me get it straight:
1. The Washington Compost republishes a DNC press release and calls it "news." In the meantime, the American people cannot see ANYTHING about Mr. Obama's academic career (did he really write a paper claiming to be a British citizen? Gee, it would have been nice for the American people to know that back in 2008.)
2. The Dems are Desperate. These articles are clarion calls to Big Liberal supporters from out of state to donate to Deeds -- a lackluster candidate who hasn't had an original idea in like forever -- and couldn't decide if he was against gay marriage or partial birth abortion or for it (really. I couldn't make this up.)
3. Creigh Deeds infamous flip-flops aren't covered. His accomplishments aren't either -- probably because he doesn't have any.
4. While Deeds is out of ideas, the best he can come up with is this?
5. As far as I can tell, Bob McDonnell is Roman Catholic -- the "practicing" kind, not the "Ted Kennedy" kind. McDonnell doesn't come from Kennedy money, and actually has had to work hard to get where he is.
Deeds doesn't have the nerve to make bones about any of that but can try to criticize McDonnell for protecting human life, enforcing public safety, and protecting children. So the Democrats are basically saying how they love Catholics who turn their backs on their beliefs, and how they hate Catholics who actually follow their consciences.
6. I support Bob. Bob can get things done. Creigh Deeds cannot.

Posted by: mary1961 | August 31, 2009 6:05 PM | Report abuse

A couple of points to the critics in this thread: Firstly the DNC press release came out today, after our story published. The original Sunday story clearly states that we were pointed in the direction of the thesis by McDonnell himself.

And JTR555: Those press releases came out a couple of hours after this blog post went up.

Christopher Dean Hopkins
Deputy Editor, Local Politics and Government

Posted by: Christopher Dean Hopkins | August 31, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

From the above article:

"McDonnell wrote the paper as a graduate student at a time before the fall of the Berlin Wall and before many of those eligible to vote in this November's election were even born," writes spokesman Tim Murtaugh.

Let me see. McDonnell wrote the paper twenty years ago. Voters who were not born twenty years ago are at most twenty years old, and at least will be 18 years old by November 3, 2009. At a wild guess, I'd say that most voters were, in fact, born when McDonnell wrote that thesis. Not only that, but his thesis was published a mere 8 months before he first campaigned for public office to put into practice what he wrote.

In addition, you can check the legislative record, should you be so inclined, to determine just how many bills McDonnell sponsored, the intent of which were to support the views he wrote in his thesis. At least 35 of them were against women's rights.

Posted by: sensible | August 31, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

"Whatever the non-politically-correct remarks were, they could be no worse than the blatant racism in Michele Obama's college thesis"

First, you could take the time to read the thesis.

Second, could you provide some quotes of Mrs. Obama's supposed racist remarks in her thesis? And I don't mean today's white definition of racism, which has become "racism is pointing out racism in my group."

Posted by: hitpoints | August 31, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I remember how hard it was to get a look at Michelle Obama's thesis.

As a Blue Dog I am ashamed that my
life-long party is side-tracked protecting third trimester abortions, rather than promoting fiscal responsibility. Address the issues!

Posted by: BluePelican | September 1, 2009 8:47 AM | Report abuse

I am a firm believer that people can change how they feel about an issue overtime. While the Republicans like to call it flip-flopping I call it maturity. To hold the exact same beliefs after 20 years as you did in college is the sign of a weak mind. Intelligent people challenge their own ideas, learn more information and refine their opinions.

Because of this the true test for me is whether McDonnell still believes the garbage he wrote while attending Pat Robertson's "University". If his record demonstrates that he does then the thesis is fair game, because it is likely the most honest McDonnell has ever been about his true views. If his record demonstrates something different, that he has moderated those views then it is time to put this story to bed.

Also, if he has moderated his views shouldn't the campaign address this head on. We have all heard about how this is a decades old paper, written during the Regan administration from the campaign but no statements directly stating that McDonnell does not hold these beliefs. I guess they still wanna lock down the bible thumping anti-gay misogynist vote.

Posted by: cmb1 | September 1, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

McDonnell does not speak for conservatives. He is aligned with the reactionaries on the far right. The views he expresses indicate that he is compatable with 1909, not 2009.
The strict adherence to prejudicial concepts is not only political. It is also aligned with his fundamentalist religion. Therefore, he believes in the ultimate truth of his distorted faith. Because of that, he not only believes in his prejudiced opinions but believes they are immutable truth from God. The combination of politics and religion means that he is afraid to deviate from his "truth from God".
Both his political and religious convictions demand that he interprets everything in the light of ideology, no matter what the facts are. Virginians need to decide whether they are electing a governor or a zealot reactionary.
Fundamentalists put doctrine ahead of thought and look down on folks that have a different view as misguided sinners that aren't walking in the light and have anti-Christ tendencies that will, if tolerated, p[lunge the world into Armageddon and cause Jesus to grab them and take them to a place where they can't be hurt. Of course, people that don't see it that way are headed for hell.
Reactionary ideology and fundamentalist Christianity override a rational approach to governing. It is not unusual to be so heavenly minded that one is no earthly good. Jesus and Jefferson would be appauled.

Posted by: AffinityGW1 | September 1, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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