Democrat Terry McAuliffe will run the first television ad of his gubernatorial campaign on Thursday, just days after Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli began airing a commercial of his own.
While the air wars in the Virginia governor's race are expected to get expensive and nasty as the campaign wears on, they're starting with a more gentle touch. Cuccinelli's 30-second spot, which began running statewide Monday, is a positive, get-to-know-me spot featuring his wife, Teiro. McAuliffe's ad is also an introduction to voters, many of whom don't know the former Democratic National Committee chairman.
McAuliffe himself narrates his first ad, called "Youngest of Four," and tells the story of how he started his first business to pay for college. The spot includes family photos and home movies and lays out the chief tenant of his campaign so far: job creation.
"I know nothing is more important to Virginians than creating good jobs that can support a family," McAuliffe says off-camera. "That will be my focus every day."
Like the Cuccinelli ad, which ends with a shot of him with his seven kids, McAuliffe's five kids make prominent appearances in his commercial, which will air in the states's four major metro areas: the D.C. suburbs, Hampton Roads, Richmond and Roanoke. Neither campaign would say how much it will spend on the first round of ads or how long they will remain on the air.
Cuccinelli's campaign called McAuliffe's ad an attempt to "erase his record as a showman, salesman and moneyman."
"After more than 30 years of fundraising for liberal candidates and leveraging his political contacts for his own financial gain, Terry McAuliffe doesn't want voters to know who he really is," Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said.
The dueling campaign ads don't reflect the negative tone of the race so far, but each candidate is using them to neutralize his opponent's lines of attack.
McAuliffe notes that he and his wife, Dorothy, "have lived in Virginia for over 20 years, and here we've raised five children of our own," hoping to put to rest criticism that the former Clinton family insider is a carpetbagger with only loose ties to the state.
Likewise, Teiro Cuccinelli tells viewers that her husband "spent his college days leading efforts to prevent sexual assaults," an attempt to counter Democratic attacks that portray the attorney general as anti-women, mainly because of his strong stance against abortion in all instances.
McAuliffe has more money than Cuccinelli to stay up on the airwaves. The Democrat has about $5 million in his campaign coffers compared with Cuccinelli's $3 million.