September 4th, 2009
10:49 AM ET
11 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. D. Tree

    Ah, the old "No really, I'm not a crazy fundamentalist" line.

    September 4, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Bridget

    Sounds pretty bad for him to say working women are a detriment to family values and then admit that he was raised by one...

    September 4, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  3. Mike in VB

    Deeds continues to tout a negative campaign. So many colorful and misinformed comments from liberals. Finally some positive look towards the future thinking coming from the McDonnell camp. As a proud Virginian it will be an honor to have Bob McDonnel bring integrity back to Richmond.

    Like minded Virginians appear to be the majority here in Hampton Roads.

    September 4, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Gary

    This news on the McDonnell TV ad reminds me of the Palin tactic. Bring in the family and use them to show how "wholesome" you are. Why can't McDonnell speak out on his paper or talk about what he wants to do for Virginia for four years???

    September 4, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Peggy - TX

    I could never vote for a man or woman who espoused such extreme prejudicial language in a thesis. This was not some off the cuff remark possibly taken out of context. To the contrary, this paper was a well thought and written with deliberation and care to every detail. The recent retraction as well as the contradiction of what he espoused then and his mother and daughter does help him much. It hurts him. He only said what he said then because he was just walking in step with the pervasive views of the time to get ahead. Now he retracts the comments to be more in line with what he perceived will help him advance at this time. In other words, he lacks conviction and a moral compass.

    If you look at stark contrast in men and women in higher paid, highly responsible positions, particularly in Republican leadership and in upper management at many companies, one this is clear is that pervasive attitudes of 1989 still affect us to this day.

    September 4, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. jaye

    You can't unring a bell! LOL

    September 4, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. VGal

    People are seriously considering voting this clown into office? Let's just go back to the days of slaves and women not voting. I can't believe after all the progress this country has made, there are sad individuals who actually support this lunatic.

    September 4, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  8. VGal

    People are seriously considering voting this guy into office? Let's just go back to the days of slaves and women not voting. I can't believe after all the progress this country has made, there are sad individuals who actually support this lunatic.

    September 4, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. jon,philadelphia

    once a nut, always a nut. If he gets elected, his true nature will show through.

    September 4, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Ted

    typical moronic politician.

    September 4, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  11. TangledThorns

    Cheesy ad but I like McDonnell's optimism over Deeds lies and hate.

    September 4, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  12. jaye

    Good grief, CNN – whats with all the polls? You're beginning to act like you're running out of news to report.
    Why not report on the horrible wars – the cruelty and ignorance of the republican party – and how Bush and Cheney nearly destroyed our country?
    Stop blaming President Obama for everything and trying to turn people against him.

    September 4, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  13. Retired US Army Officer-Kansas

    While I can relate to ones views changing over time, What I would perhaps ask McDonnell to do is take his Masters thesis and publically in writting explain what his views are today and how he arrived at these views. Then individuals can make up there own mind s as to whether he is a right wing ultra conservative sexist or not.

    Lesson learned, be aware that what you spout off in your youth may in fact come back and demand explanation later in life, and if you have chosen public life, I was young might not cut the mustard. Also reminds people, that if you live in a glass house, you should not throw bricks.

    September 4, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  14. Duck Fallas

    Looks like the ladies stay home and eat.

    September 4, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  15. Jay

    Who would think you have changed?

    September 4, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  16. Bert

    Nice slap in the face of your mom when you were 32. Being raised by a working mom and then writing in your thesis that her working status is detrimental to the family unit, and now you drag her working status at that time out as a positive. I don't get it.

    September 4, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  17. demwit

    The American family unit has had problems since the progressive movement??

    September 4, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  18. dusty

    I am a baby boomer so my mom raised me as a stay at home mom. Mom today or Mothers are too busy trying to prove that they are equal to men has cost real mothers to suffer over the years. I raised my two kids alone with no child support and I have to say being a mother figure and a male role model was extremely hard. The man to me is and should be the head, and women need to bond with them and follow as one.


    September 4, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  19. Ms. White

    It sounds like he resented his mother working doing his growing years...mother was not home to tend to his needs, meals on the table when he returned home from school, etc.

    Ever thought the reason way there are working women...their husband leaves them, takes all the money, and the secretary!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Women need to make their own meat and potatoes...when the gravy comes along...the sweeter it taste.... when the gravy is still have the meat and potatoes

    September 4, 2009 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  20. The new GOP party of NO, racism, and hate is emerging

    this creep is trying to run away from his shadows!....this dimwit "core family values" is that working women are harmful to traditional families. he just want women to be slaves working in that labor camp he calls "traditional home" raising babies and doing domestic chores!!!

    September 4, 2009 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  21. Ms. White

    Ron or Nancy Reagon stated the same belief about 20 years was an article in the paper.
    Can someone research this article?

    September 4, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  22. John Black Hills/SD

    What he said in his thesis is a look into his minds perception on our society, people don't change their life long beliefs just because he is exposed, his words have remained on record. At least we can see that they were his words, not like the foolish claims by republicans who continue using the words Obama never used "spreading the wealth". Those words were expressed by a professor (not Obama) in Chicago during a radio interview in the 1990's discussing a subject of education and civil rights.

    September 4, 2009 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. worriedmom

    Deeds is like the rest of his Liberal friends. You have to go back 20 years to find some dirt???? wonder what you were thinking and doing 20 years ago, Mr. Deeds!!! Typical Liberal, name calling but not substance behind your fight.
    McDonnell has my vote!!!

    September 4, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  24. elliott

    Apparently the Democratic candidate in this election doesn't have a leg to stand on if this is the best he has. Scare tactics are pathetic, and a sign of desperation. The fact that someone had an opinion 20 years ago about an issue may or may not say anything about his current stance on the issue.

    I find it pathetic also that the fact that this man wrote a position paper 20 years ago apparently equates in some liberal's minds to all republicans being anti-women. Really? That seems an illogical conclusion to me – par for the course for democrats, but nonetheless pathetic.

    September 4, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  25. Tom St. Paul

    This guy should confront his own words from his Master's Thesis (no, this is not just a "junk" paper that you'd turn out during an all-nighter just to keep your GPA from slipping), and either tell the voters that he now feels he was wrong and what changed his mind, or stand by his words and defend them. Man up, McDonnell!

    Note to GOPers: You just can't win, running people like this. The rest of the country is so far ahead of you people on social issues.

    September 4, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
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