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POLITICS: PennAve

Ken Cuccinelli airing 30-minute campaign speech in Virginia governor race

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Virginia,Steve Contorno,Governor,Terry McAuliffe,Ken Cuccinelli,Campaign Finance,Campaigns,PennAve

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is running a 30-minute campaign ad to make his case to Virginia voters in the final seven weeks before Election Day.

In a half-hour speech unveiled Thursday, Cuccinelli calls for lower taxes, rips into Obamacare, doubles down on his support of coal, and highlights his work as attorney general to go after sexual predators. He also blasts Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe as a Washington insider with no history of working for Virginia.

"We're going to talk about choices, real choices, between two futures for our state and for ourselves," Cuccinelli says, prefacing his wonky talk.

As far as long-form campaign ads go, the video is a far cry from the production quality of the 30-minute special then-candidate Barack Obama paid to run on major broadcast and cable networks before the 2008 presidential election. Cuccinelli is simply standing in a dark, gray room with a podium and two monitors tuned to his campaign logo. The camera shifts between multiple shots of Cuccinelli and a small audience of supporters, who clap throughout.

It's not clear how many eyeballs the speech will actually reach. Cuccinelli has about $2.2 million on hand, and advertising in Virginia, particularly in the Washington area, is typically more expensive than other states. Northern Virginia-based American Target Advertising Inc. group, headed by conservative activist Richard Viguerie, helped pay for the ad, according to a disclaimer.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the infomercial already ran in Norfolk on Thursday and will air again there Friday morning, in addition to once in Roanoke and twice in Richmond.

But the speech itself and the ensuing publicity are intended to depict Cuccinelli as the candidate who can talk knowledgeably on a number of issues beyond the 30-second soundbites voters are used to. It plays up a narrative that emerged after McAuliffe reportedly botched his interview with a Northern Virginia tech business PAC, while Cuccinelli, who earned the group's endorsement, was lauded for his understanding of policy and the tech industry. Cuccinelli notes the endorsement in his speech.

After pulling ahead for several weeks, McAuliffe is now holding on to a narrowing 44-41 percent lead, according to the latest Quinnipiac University poll. McAuliffe still holds a healthy fundraising advantage over Cuccinelli, which he has used to run ads throughout the state blasting the Republican attorney general as a conservative crusader and criticizing Cuccinelli's part in a state scandal surrounding a wealthy Virginia businessman.

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