NBC News: In Virginia Democratic Debate, McAuliffe Seeks Contrast With GOP’s Youngkin in Governor’s Race By Ben Kamisar, May 20, 2021
WASHINGTON — As he seeks to return to his old job, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was focused far more on November’s general election than his Democratic opponents in a televised debate less than three weeks before the June 8 primary election.
But instead of mixing it up with his party rivals, McAuliffe peppered many of his answers with digs at Republican Glenn Youngkin, the former private equity executive who won the Republican nomination earlier this month.
He also took regular swings at former President Donald Trump, looking past the primary by trying to define Youngkin as an extension of Trump while repeatedly mentioning his own “friend,” President Joe Biden.
“The Republicans have just nominated an extreme, right-wing billionaire to be their nominee,” McAuliffe said, noting Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin.
“We cannot let Glenn Youngkin do to Virginia what Donald Trump did to our country,” he said.
McAuliffe has emphasized the general election as he holds a commanding lead in fundraising and public polling, and he has taken criticism from Republican groups and Youngkin along the way.
McAuliffe, who largely focused on Youngkin instead of his opponents, fended off his opponents’ criticisms by promising “bold” policies.
“We need experience now to lead us out of this very tough crisis. I did it before. I’ll do it again. And I have big, bold plans,” he said. “We’ve tinkered around long enough. It is time to lead the country.”