Hillary Clinton to headline fundraiser for Terry McAuliffe

“That makes sense,” says the Christian Science Monitor to the news that Hillary Clinton will headline a fundraiser for beleaguered Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe — which then goes on to detail a few ways in which it doesn’t.  McAuliffe, whose GreenTech venture is now the center of two different corruption investigations, will be enough baggage for the Clintons without personal appearances drawing even stronger connections between the two:

But be sure, Republicans are already digging, and McAuliffe highlights the potential perils of Clinton’s past.

McAuliffe, after all, was not universally loved as a Clinton fundraiser. While that might be a badge of honor for the best fundraisers, it doesn’t make for sterling reputations. Even Mr. Clinton has joked about his friend. “Absolutely, I would buy a new car from Terry. But a used car? I am not so sure about a used car,” he told The New York Times last year.

That reputation was not enhanced earlier this month when the Securities and Exchange Commission revealed it was investigating an electric car company founded by McAuliffe, GreenTech Automotive, to see if it properly applied a federal program that offers permanent residency to foreign investors. For good measure, the SEC is also investigating Gulf Coast Funds Management, which seeks investors in the company and is run by Anthony Rodham, Ms. Clinton’s brother.

As Ms. Clinton surely knows, holding a fundraiser on Sept. 30, 2013, for a good friend is not going to derail any 2016 presidential aspirations. But like the New York City mayor’s race, it indicates a potential weak point for Clinton going forward.

Er … yeah.  It’s bad enough that her brother is now under investigation for assisting McAuliffe into bypassing a DHS denial of EB-5 visas to allow investors from China — with possible ties to China’s military and intelligence — into the US.  Having Hillary go on the fundraising trail for McAuliffe makes those ties a lot more close, and brings up a lot of memories of the Clinton-McAuliffe past, including the exploitation of the Lincoln Bedroom for Bill Clinton’s own political fundraising in his first term.

Most pols would put McAuliffe at arms’ length with his current legal and political woes.  One reason why she may feel as though she has no choice is because of the value of Virginia in 2016.  The state has become purple-to-blue in recent years in presidential elections, going twice for Barack Obama, but it’s usually a close-run election.  Having a Republican governor in place might have enough of an effect to push the state a little more red in 2016, and without Virginia, Hillary’s general-election path to the presidency gets a little more complicated.  Therefore, like it or not, Hillary has to invest in the 2013 cycle even if it means embracing a man facing multiple probes into potential corruption.

Guy Benson notes that Ken Cuccinelli and the Virginia GOP are working to make McAuliffe’s legal woes a central point in their campaign:

McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, wasted no time in pouncing on the piece:

“This is today’s New York Times. Front page of The New York Times and I would not normally urge anyone to buy The New York Times, but it is pretty incredible to see what they have run about my opponent and his attempted use of connections with respect to GreenTech and the current president and CEO’s comments. The current president of GreenTech said that Terry and people like him are dangerous for business.That’s his quote. And Terry is still a 25 percent shareholder in this company and that’s what the chairman is saying. Wow. How do you say it? That will leave a mark.

But will it impact the polls?  Recent surveys have produced mixed results, with an unusually high number of uncommitted voters.  I’ve been told that polling breaks heavily against McAuliffe when respondents are aware of his GreenTech baggage, which is probably why the GOP has placed that narrative front and center in a new batch of television ads.

If this gains traction against McAuliffe, then Hillary’s involvement in the campaign may transfer that “mark” to her own bid later in Virginia.  If Cuccinelli wins, though, perhaps Hillary figures that she hasn’t lost anything and that the damage will be limited to only Virginia.