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McAuliffe's Tendency To Exaggerate Could Come Back To Haunt Him McAuliffe's Tendency To Exaggerate Could Come Back To Haunt Him

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McAuliffe's Tendency To Exaggerate Could Come Back To Haunt Him

January 25, 2013

If former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe is going to have a self-inflicted wound during his run for Virginia governor, it could come as a result of his tendency to exaggerate.

This week, "Politifact Virginia" published an in-depth report about whether McAuliffe and his business partners at GreenTech, an electric car manufacturer, made a concerted effort to locate a car manufacturing plant in Virginia and whether the Virginia Economic Development Partnership took sufficient steps to make that happen before GreenTech set up shop in Mississippi instead.

The end of the piece is particularly troubling for McAuliffe:

"Contrary to McAuliffe's claim, there is no evidence the state agency decided not to bid on the project. Emails show VEDP took GreenTech officials on a tour of potential sites and contacted the company about coming to Virginia almost two years after GreenTech announced it was building a plant in Mississippi. We rate McAuliffe's statement False."

After the story came out, the Republican Governors Association teed off on McAuliffe, with spokesman Mike Schrimpf sending out an e-mail citing examples from December of McAuliffe speaking about the state agency not taking GreenTech seriously enough for the company to build its factory.

Armed with Politifact Virginia's report, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and his fellow Republicans likely will attempt to question McAuliffe's integrity by using his own quotes against him. This is a vulnerability for the multi-millionaire as his reputation for stretching the facts goes back years.

"It would be understating things to say that McAuliffe is prone to overstating things," wrote the Washington Post's Mark Leibovich during the 2004 presidential campaign season. "To deprive him of hyperbole and exaggeration would be like depriving a mathematician of numbers."

In 2009, his Democratic primary rivals Brian Moran and eventual nominee Creigh Deeds also charged him with exaggerating his business record.

Democrats, of course, will have a massive opposition file on Cuccinelli, who they plan to portray as too conservative to govern a swing-state like Virginia. Over the last two weeks, Democrats have highlighted Cuccinelli's insistence that a Virginia bishop should be willing to go to jail by defying the federal mandate on contraceptive coverage.

With both sides eager to go negative at this early stage in the campaign, the race could come down to which candidate successfully defines his opponent first.

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