September 4th, 2009
10:49 AM ET
5 years ago

McDonnell counters controversial thesis talk with upbeat ad

McDonnell touts his family in his latest ad.
McDonnell touts his family in his latest ad.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Bob McDonnell is using a new television ad to push back against a wave of criticism over his 1989 master's thesis, which argued that working women are harmful to traditional families.

The 20-year old research paper has dominated headlines in the Virginia governor's race this week, with much of the coverage being spurred on by Democrat Creigh Deeds in an effort to portray McDonnell as too conservative for the moderate voters who have gravitated to the Republican's side.

McDonnell's new ad, which his campaign touted as "positive" in a press release late Thursday, portrays the former state Attorney General walking at a brisk pace along the streets of the northern Virginia neighborhood where he grew up. His three daughters - including his daughter Jeanine, an Army officer who served in Iraq - figure prominently in the 30-second commercial, which is called "Leadership."

McDonnell opens the spot with an homage to his working mother, distancing himself from his 1989 claim that such women are "detrimental" to the family unit.

"An Air Force officer and working mom raised me in this middle class neighborhood," he says.

The Republican hopeful goes on to promise results on the economy, job creation and college costs - avoiding the topic of social issues, as he has worked to do for much of the campaign.

The ad is running statewide but not in northern Virginia, where Deeds is running a tough radio ad accusing McDonnell of wanting to take Virginia back to "the dark ages."


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Creigh Deeds
soundoff (68 Responses)
  1. GI Joe

    Wonder if he's one of those C-Street Republicans that think women are to be used to get what he wants for himself (using his own daughter as propaganda).

    I hope women see thru this snake in the grass. Disgraceful.

    September 4, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    I saw the commercial and didn't like it. It sounds like a bunch of sound bites with no substance to it. I think he honestly believes woman shouldn't be in the owrk force.

    September 4, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Randolph Carter, merciless head of the death panel

    The phrase "lipstick on a pig" comes to mind. Have a nice day!

    September 4, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. B in Pittsburgh

    I wonder what his mother thought about his thesis, knowing that, according to him, she harmed the family by working....

    What a jerk.

    September 4, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. randy

    What a nice looking family, bet this is not the first time they love there country like that hatelful michelle nobama.

    September 4, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  6. katiec

    The republicans have steadfastly over the years voted against anything for the betterment of womens standings in the job
    market etc. Just as they have voted against anything beneficial
    to middle class America.
    They continue to be outdated, out of touch with their policies and
    continue their undying support for big business, greed and power.
    These hypocrits most certainly do not belong in or worthy of
    public office.

    September 4, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Kevin in Ohio

    All Deeds has left is the typical liberal left-wing vitriol.

    September 4, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. MLH

    I would have thought a much better ad would have been one that explained why he has changed his beliefs. Was the thesis just a position paper that argued one side? Was it his belief at the time, but not now? Did he just pretend it was his belief because he was going to a religious college and wanted the degree? If I was a potential constituent, those are the questions I would like to see answered in an ad.

    September 4, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. Lindie

    Republicians are always trying to dig up old speeches and things that the Democrats have said and done, now the shoe is on the other foot...What did this man have to say about Soyomayor and her speech she gave 20 years ago......the republicans tried to labal her as a racist.......so open mouth insert foot McDonnell.....you can put all the ads in the world on tv or radio and it wouldn't change what you said and think about WORKING WOMEN........you and the majority of the GOP is in the DARK AGES......

    September 4, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  10. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    An ad featuring his daughters and working mother, eh? And I thought McDonnell might actually have the courage of his convictions and stand by his beliefs.

    But in American politics, smoke and mirrors and hypocritical references to family values are effective weapons, able to deflect attention away from just about anything a Republican candidate doesn't want his ignorant and delusional supporters to see.

    Well played, soon-to-be Governor-Elect McDonnell...

    September 4, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  11. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I'm a Democrat and quite frankly this was a 20-year old thesis. That's a reach. People change. Look at Sen. Byrd . The significance of this thesis is being greatly exxagerated. Let it go.

    September 4, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  12. Sniffit

    Soooo, he resented his mother for working?

    September 4, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  13. Don Dearen

    No coverage of Van Jones. Unbeleivable. No wonder Fox News
    is killing you in the ratings.

    September 4, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  14. Nick

    The greatest threat to family values is the GOP. I was taught to care for others, be nice to everyone regardless of how they might be different from me and be tolerant the very things the "what's in it for me" party stands oppossed to. So the ding-bats remarks do not come as any surprise. It is their usual anti-family vaules postering.

    September 4, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Don Dearen

    What not moderate about it?

    September 4, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  16. Don Dearen

    By moderation do you mean being pro Obama?

    September 4, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  17. Reagan was wrong

    He was raised by a working mother, and then years later he rails against working mothers.

    Sorry, not buying it.

    September 4, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  18. Fnord-a-saurus Rex

    Just because you run an ad on TV doesnt make it true.

    September 4, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  19. John Sivills

    Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence at age 33. Bob McDonnell wrote his thesis at age 34. Both men in their adulthood made choices as to what to write for guidance in American life. McDonnell before he wrote his paper had been in the navy, started a family, and completed his undergraduate education. Then he made his choice to write his thesis on the topics being discussed.

    September 4, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. steve

    The republican party strategy to insult and disrespect the president even on non-controversial issue as speaking to school kids nationally on the importance of education is a sad comedy in itself.
    The GOP are setting a bad precedent that would hunt their image for ever in this country. What do they think would happen if a republican is elected president sometime in the future?

    September 4, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  21. DA

    As the saying goes, to improve the future you have to learn from the past!!! So, given what we know of his past I say he is really prone to push VA back into the DARK AGES!!! Therefore he shouldn't be elected!!!

    September 4, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. Jilli

    Blah, blah, blah.

    Your thesis speaks volumes.

    September 4, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  23. Jonathan

    As someone who has written a lot of college papers I think this story is silly. Sure he may have thought those things at one time, but whose views haven't changed about race and sex over the last 20 years, and who hasn't written a pile of rubbish to get a grade on a paper? Then again, I don't have to look back 20 years to find reasons not to vote for this quack.

    September 4, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. OH SAY CAN YOU SEE!!!

    McDonnell opens the spot with an homage to his working mother, distancing himself from his 1989 claim that such women are "detrimental" to the family unit. McDonnell is a Hypocrite!!!!

    September 4, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Steve (the real one)

    Reminds me of the same debate over the "wise Latina" comments. The left said disregard the words and look at the body of work! I will now say the same thing! Look at the body of work, disregard the words! The only problem is since he is a conservative, it won't just won't matter to the liberals! It seems that goose/ gander thing just won't fly with liberals UNLESS it is to their benefit! Can I get an AMEN, somebody??

    September 4, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
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