NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Virginia, addressed the Conservative Political Action Conference here Thursday morning, largely focusing on the criminal justice issues he's faced as the commonwealth's attorney general. But Cuccinelli still managed to get in a dig at his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe.
Cuccinelli reminded the crowd that McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee during Bill Clinton's presidency, served as Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman in 2008 and "worked with Bill Clinton to rent out the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House," a line that elicited laughter. Cuccinelli added that he would like to "protect" the Lafayette Room in the governor's mansion from befalling the same fate.
McAuliffe "believes that government is the solution for every problem facing our nation today," added Cuccinelli.
A day after his campaign announced he would not sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge -- or any other pledge, for that matter -- Cuccinelli laid out five policy points he would pursue as governor. He promised he would simplify the commonwealth's tax code "in a fair way," streamline government regulations for business, "rein in the government," provide a quality education for children, and "speak for those citizens who do not have a voice," ranging from the unborn to those wrongfully incarcerated.
Much of Cuccinelli's speech concerned his role as attorney general, a position he has held since his election in 2009. Some national conservatives may have been surprised that Cuccinelli is an advocate for reforming the criminal justice system in favor of allowing those convicted to prove their innocence if it exists.
Another Virginian, former Democratic Sen. Jim Webb, championed a similar cause during his six-year tenure at the Capitol, when he called for a commission to examine the system. It never passed.
Cuccinelli addressed his "fellow tough-on-crime conservatives" and said that the idea of locking up "every convict and throw away the key" is inadequate.
"We need to stop throwing away that key," said Cuccinelli. "Conservatives should lead the campaign to change the culture of corrections in America."