McAuliffe sweats: My comments about parents not telling schools what to teach are being taken "out of context"

There have been no new public polls of Virginia since Trafalgar’s last week but I think the Twitter consensus about this new ad has to be right. McAuliffe’s private polling must have turned up some grim numbers on how his comments during the campaign about schooling have been received by voters. There’s no other explanation for why he’d play defense this way, amplifying his opponent’s criticism of him in an ad, unless he thought he needed to do damage control urgently.

The weird part is that it was predictable that being imperious about education at a cultural moment like this might come back to haunt him. Right-leaning parents with kids in public school were outraged at the months of closures last year during the pandemic, disgruntled about student mask mandates which they deem unnecessary, and suspicious of indoctrination due to the attention paid to Critical Race Theory this past summer. That called for a little “I feel your pain” empathy from the Democrat a la McAuliffe’s old friend Bill. Instead he chose to rush headlong into the culture war, maybe because he thought he’d never have to retreat in a Biden +10 state.

Remember this moment at the Virginia gubernatorial debate three weeks ago?

Remember McAuliffe scoffing not long after that worrying about “anti-racist” dogma creeping into class is racist? It’s baffling that this guy could have looked at the upset on display at school board meetings across the country and the media coverage of school policy as a galvanizing issue in his own race and decided that hand-waving away parents’ concerns was the way to go.

Especially knowing how heavily Democrats now depend on support from well-educated suburbanites.

McAuliffe’s finally throwing in the towel on this issue in his new ad. He cares about what’s happening in schools. A lot! Don’t let that Republican tell you otherwise.

I wonder what convinced him to shift into reverse gear. Like I say, there must be some polling. But maybe the uproar over the cover-up of sexual assault in Loudoun County schools also has McAuliffe jittery. Put that together with school COVID policy and CRT and you have a broad narrative about Virginia schools abusing their children in a multitude of ways. McAuliffe’s cavalier attitude that the state’s education system is doing just fine and parents should stay out of it looks dangerously callous in that environment. Time to rethink.

As for his claim that his prior comments about schools were out of context, Youngkin was ready for him:

He was ready for McAuliffe on CRT too:

Big picture, it’s bad for McAuliffe to be talking about anything right now except Trump. His strategy to motivate apathetic Democrats is to convince them that Youngkin is Trump’s mini-me and that Republican victory in Virginia will further entrench the GOP as the party of MAGA. (That strategy is working on some Democrats.) If the race becomes a conversation about schools or CRT or anything else down the stretch, it lets Youngkin play offense and invites voters to ask themselves why they should return a former governor to office who didn’t fix the state’s problems, starting with education, during his first go-round.

Which is also why Youngkin doesn’t want Trump coming there to campaign for him. MAGA voters will turn out anyway to send a message to Biden. Trump showing up would motivate more lefties than righties and hand McAuliffe a gift-wrapped excuse to steer the conversation back to his favorite subject.

Read the always interesting David Byler on how to handicap Virginia’s race down the stretch. McAuliffe has the fundamentals on his side — a blue electorate with lots of college grads, many government workers, and a large African-American minority. Polarization is working for him too by giving the Democratic majority there a reason to vote, which is why every third word out of his mouth is “Trump.” But Youngkin has timing on his side as Americans’ disenchantment with Biden deepens. No matter who wins, it seems a cinch that Dems won’t get anywhere near Biden’s 10-point margin of victory in Virginia last fall. Which means we’re headed for a liberal freakout about the midterms the day after the election no matter what.

Trending on Hotair Video