By Katherine Johnson
Capital News Service
RICHMOND – General Assembly Democrats hosted an unlikely “celebration” of the release of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s “The Last Line of Defense” with a book reading.
Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, released his book Tuesday. Democratic legislators selected and read passages in which Cuccinelli highlights what he believes to be overreaches of the federal government.
Delegate Charniele Herring of Alexandria said the book shows that Cuccinelli’s agenda is too extreme for Virginia.
“Virginia Democrats hope every Virginian reads this book and evaluates its content, as it is central to the agenda that Ken Cuccinelli would bring to the Governor’s Mansion if elected,” Delegate Herring said at the beginning of the reading.
“Each of us have passages to share with you, which we believe is important in order for Virginians to make the best possible decision about their next governor.”
Herring read a passage about the new federal health-care law, which creates health-insurance exchanges and limits when an insurance company can deny coverage. In his book, Cuccinelli said the law “was one of the fastest ways to put private insurance companies out of business.”
“There is a bipartisan consensus that insurance companies should not be able to deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. It is a view that’s shared by eight in 10 Americans. This is the perfect illustration of an issue where Cuccinelli is proud of how far outside the mainstream he is,” Herring said after reading the passage.
In his book, Cuccinelli also discussed Medicare and Social Security – a topic Sen. Mark Herring of Leesburg chose to read about. Herring said Cuccinelli’s opposition to these programs “may be the most extreme element of the book that’s filled with extreme statements.”
Cuccinelli’s book says that Medicare and Social Security were created by “bad politicians set out to grow government in order to increase their own power and influence” and that they made people dependent on government programs.
“These attacks on Virginians who pay into Medicare and Social Security is offensive, and it’s wrong,” Herring said.
Delegate Alfonso Lopez of Arlington continued the reading with a passage about Medicare Part D, a prescription drug program for senior citizens created by then-President George W. Bush.
Cuccinelli’s book says citizens are more likely to vote for politicians that promise benefits. “Sometimes even small government conservatives can stray from their principles,” he wrote.
Cuccinelli cited Bush as an example of “conservatives going astray” when he approved Medicare Part D. According to Cuccinelli, Bush was using tax dollars to buy seniors’ votes for his 2004 reelection campaign.
Lopez said the program isn’t controversial. Cuccinelli’s view of Bush as a “radical sellout to the liberal agenda tells you all you need to know about his own extreme worldview and ideology.”
Sen. Barbara Favola of Arlington also read a passage and offered her thoughts on why Cuccinelli isn’t the best candidate for governor.
“The opportunities afforded by government should level the playing field, not minimize our ability to achieve equality of life. We need a governor who will support all Virginians and a governor who will protect Virginia’s families. That is not Mr. Cuccinelli,” Favola said.
Delegate Scott Surovell of Mount Vernon read a passage in which Cuccinelli criticized government-funded recreation centers. “I am here to take to you all about the scourge of recreation centers,” Surovell said before reading the passage.
In the excerpt read by Surovell, Cuccinelli said the government “reduces economic efficiencies and the power of the free market” when they “crowd out private activity.”
Surovell said he’d like Cuccinelli to visit the two recreation centers in his district and talk to residents. Without those facilities, “they’d never see a pool,” Surovell said. “And secondly, if they did swim, they’d have to deal with the snakeheads in the Potomac.”
At the end of the reading, the Democrats urged Virginia voters to read “The Last Line of Defense” before voting in November’s gubernatorial election.
Capital News Service is a student news-gathering program sponsored by the School of Mass Communications at Virginia Commonwealth University.