WASHINGTON – Former Virginia attorney general Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite who barely lost a run for governor last year, believes Republicans are well-positioned to make major gains this election season – as long as they avoid the sort of missteps that have plagued them in the past.
Cuccinelli, who believes he would have defeated Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe last November if the campaign had lasted just a few more weeks – “we had the momentum,” he said – insists Democrats will prove unable to escape the stain of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, as voters head to the polls.
“I think it’s a real opportunity for Republicans,” he said while attending the recent conference of Right on Crime. “It shows you how powerful an abomination Obamacare is. Democrats who are defending it are violating the first rule of politics – when you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
Cuccinelli said the public remains “revolted” by Obamacare but success at the polls may hinge on “how they handle it.” Congressional Republicans could still stymie success by taking dubious actions like passing immigration reform.
“If amnesty goes through, it can turn around a lot of the momentum that has been in our favor against us,” Cuccinelli said. “We still need the base and the base needs to feel they’re getting something out of all this. To them it’s more than just having the majority. To them it’s the issues that are important.”
Adopting immigration reform, something House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has opened up as a remote possibility this year, could be a deal breaker for the party’s conservative faction, Cuccinelli said, opening up possibilities for Democrats if Republicans avoid the polls.
Cuccinelli has consistently opposed most versions of immigration reform, particularly those plans that provide a pathway to citizenship for those in the U.S. who are undocumented. During his career in the Virginia Senate, Cuccinelli introduced legislation urging Congress to adopt a constitutional amendment to revoke citizenship rights for children, born in the U.S., whose parents are illegal immigrants. He also proposed allowing businesses to file suit against companies that hire illegal aliens and deny unemployment benefits to those who can’t speak English.
If Republicans focus on the issues this November, Cuccinelli said, “the odds are a lot better.”