WASHINGTON (CNN) - Moderates? To hear the Democratic National Committee tell it, Tim Pawlenty is a conservative wolf in sheep's clothing, and Bob McDonnell is his right-wing muse.
Democratic party state chairs from Virginia and Minnesota used a DNC-organized conference call Wednesday to slam both Republicans, attacking the Minnesota governor for campaigning with McDonnell, Virginia's "extremist" Republican gubernatorial candidate.
Donna Cassutt, chairwoman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, accused Pawlenty of abandoning his "middle-of-the-road" credentials by campaigning with McDonnell, who has been fending off attacks from opponent Creigh Deeds over a 1989 master's thesis that criticized working women and gays.
She described McDonnell's thesis "truly offensive and shocking" to women and questioned Pawlenty's principles, accusing him of veering to the right in advance of a 2012 presidential bid. Pawlenty has been traveling the country meeting with Republican groups and campaigning for GOP candidates, including New Jersey gubernatorial candidate Chris Christie.
"He's been sounding practically Bachmann-esque," Cassut said of Pawlenty, referring to conservative Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann.
The chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, Richard Cranwell, said that any politician coming to campaign for McDonnell should be prepared to answer questions about the thesis.
DNC national press secretary Hari Sevugan said Pawlenty has "completely embraced" McDonnell, a man "who holds views that are utterly antiquated now for this century but for last century."
McDonnell campaign spokesman Tucker Martin brushed off the Democratic criticism.
"It's kind of sad that the DNC put more time into today's call then Creigh Deeds has put into formulating any semblance of a transportation plan," Martin said.
An adviser to Pawlenty said that the governor is in Virginia Wednesday "because he knows that Bob McDonnell will promote pro-growth policies that Virginia and America needs."