| I just got off a conference call with Virginia Senators Mamie Locke and Donald McEachin, along with Delegate Bob Brink, to discuss the offensive comments made by Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) Chair Pat Mullins during this weekend's RPV "Advance" (aka, "retreat") in Hot Springs, Virginia. The first offensive quote by Mullins was that "Obama's so close to death that Terry McAuliffe is about to buy a life insurance on him." Here are the responses by McEachin, Locke and Brink.
Sen. McEachin: "Sadly, this isn't the first time Virginia Republicans have used offensive, violent rhetoric against President Obama. In September 2012, the Mecklenburg County Republicans put offensive photos on their Facebook page. And in 2011, Loudoun County Republicans sent out a Halloween mailer depicting President Obama as a zombie with a bullet hold in his head. Saying that President Obama is close to death is unacceptable in our political discourse, and the chairman really should be ashamed of himself. He's decried this type of rhetoric before...and yet somehow it keeps appearing in his speeches, in his public comments. To my mind, this is yet another example of just how unwilling to change and how unbridled in their opposition to President Obama the Republicans are. Instead of making insulting, incendiary comments about the President, intended to fire up the same Tea Party base that drove Virginia Republicans to statewide losses in 2013, Chairman Mullins would be better suited to look in the mirror and examine how out of touch Virginia Republicans have become with people across the Commonwealth. But that would require the GOP to acknowledge its past mistakes and to learn from them, and it's clear they have no interest in doing that." Sen. McEachin added that Gov. McDonnell should call for Pat Mullins to step down and put someone in place who will work to achieve results for Virginia and not just engage in offensive rhetoric.
Sen. Locke: She highlighted Pat Mullins' comment that he's "looking forward to taking the gloves off" with Gov.-elect McAuliffe. According to Locke, it seems that Mullins "has taken a page out of Mitch McConnell's and Eric Cantor's playbook, that is to oppose and obstruct" and continue to fire up the Tea Party base. This strategy, in Locke's view, stands in stark contrast to Gov.-elect McAuliffe, who she says has reached out to Republican legislators and has demonstrated a real commitment to finding common ground in order to get things done. "Today's Republicans are dominated and controlled by the right wing, and Chairman Mullins' comments indicate that the Virginia GOP's strategy going forward will be to continue kowtowing to the Tea Party. That's disappointing, especially coming off an election in which Virginia Democrats swept all three statewide offices for the first time in nearly 25 years. You'd think Republicans would take this as an opportunity to learn from past mistakes and begin moderating their approach, but instead it's the same old Virginia GOP - get them fired up by Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, and Pat Mullins." Finally, Locke agreed with McEachin that RPV Chairman Mullins should step down.
Del. Brink: According to Brink, "Chairman Mullins' comments are offensive, and they also show some real problems within the Virginia Republican Party." Brink added that it also "really calls into question whether the Republicans are willing to change, because this is the same vision that the voters rejected in 2013." Brink noted that the lineup at the VA GOP "Advance" this weekend included Ken Cuccinelli, EW Jackson, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, all of whom tout the same strategy of Sen. Ted Cruz that shut down the government. Brink says he hopes that Mullins' offensive comments are just an example of a political operative throwing out red meat to the party's faithful, and not the party's philosophy going forward, because we need to work together in a bipartisan way. Finally, Brink agreed with McEachin that Mullins' rhetoric demonstrates that he's unwilling to work in a bipartisan manner and that Mullins should step down.