Planned Parenthood, Terry McAuliffe go after Ken Cuccinelli on women's health

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

National women's health care provider Planned Parenthood is working with Democrat Terry McAuliffe to take down Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia's high-profile governor race.

Planned Parenthood launched a website last week -- KeepKenOut.org -- that highlights Cuccinelli's consistent anti-abortion positions throughout his tenure in public office. It's the first time the organization has devoted a website to a single gubernatorial candidate, and it demonstrates just how invested Planned Parenthood is in the race.

The website is a gift to McAuliffe, and not just because of its potential impact on female voters. The organization donated the site as an in-kind contribution. At the bottom of the Web page, it notes the site was "Authorized by Terry McAuliffe for Governor."

"Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC worked hard to defeat anti-women's health candidates in November, and we are stronger than ever for 2013," said Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC. "We will make sure that Virginia voters are aware of Cuccinelli's dangerous agenda for women and their health care."

Planned Parenthood officials said they have been in contact with the McAuliffe campaign about their efforts. McAuliffe declined comment, and his campaign has not publicized the website.

McAuliffe has much to gain in an alliance with Planned Parenthood, even if it rubs conservative voters the wrong way, said professor Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington. The organization was heavily involved in the 2012 presidential elections in painting Republican Mitt Romney as extreme on women's health issues, helping President Obama win 55 percent of female voters.

"Planned Parenthood can benefit the McAuliffe campaign in two ways: They can spend a whole lot of money, and two, they have credibility with a lot of voters that exists separately from the McAuliffe campaign," Farnsworth said. "I don't see much of a downside. The pro-life community is already very committed to Cuccinelli."

Cuccinelli's campaign said it was a clear sign the former Democratic National Committee chairman was already recruiting his Washington allies for the race, a criticism that dogged McAuliffe's failed 2009 gubernatorial bid.

"Once again Terry McAuliffe is bringing in his out-of-state network of liberal friends to try and influence voters in Virginia," said Cuccinelli spokesman Jahan Wilcox. "Instead of offering plans to grow Virginia's economy -- instead of Mississippi's -- fix our transportation system, or improve our schools, Terry McAuliffe's team is trying to do everything it can to not talk about the issues that matter to the people of Virginia."

Cuccinelli, a pro-life conservative, is an ardent opponent of abortion in all instances. Last year he struck down a State Board of Health decision that would have exempted existing abortion providers from strict new regulations on facilities that provide five or more first-trimester abortion procedures per month. Planned Parenthood operates seven such facilities in Virginia and is the single largest provider of abortions in the United States.

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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