About Our Guest
Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe is a businessman, entrepreneur, and Democratic Party leader from Fairfax County. His focus is on job creation, advances in health care opportunities, and educational advancement.
The youngest of four boys, Terry knew he would need to pay his own way through college so, at age 14, he started a businessóthe first of many successful businesses he would create throughout his life. At the age of 30, he was elected chairman of a struggling community bank that was on the verge of liquidation, and he turned it around. Later he took over and saved a large home building company that was on the brink of bankruptcy. Terry has several new projects in development, focusing his efforts on the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy sources. For example, he serves as Chairman of Green Tech Automotive, which manufactures electric and hybrid vehicles.
Terry has also been active as a volunteer for Democratic candidates and causes. He served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee where he brought his pragmatic, businessmanís approach to politics. As DNC Chairman, Terry increased grassroots outreach with supporters, got the Party out of debt, and invested in new technology. He has also served as a vocal advocate for working families across the country and Democratic Party principles, like fighting to end our nationís reliance on foreign oil and develop renewable energy sources that are better for the environment and can create good jobs.
Terry is also a force in Virginia politics. In 2009, he decided to run for governor on the platform that, ďGood ideas come from all corners of the Commonwealth, not just Richmond.Ē During the campaign, he hosted economic roundtables across Virginia, bringing together hundreds of business and community leaders to help generate new and innovative policy ideas. He used those ideas to craft a 131-page business plan to govern Ė a blueprint for Virginia.
Over 20 years ago, Terry and his wife Dorothy chose Virginia as their home. They live with their five children in Fairfax County, where they attend St. Luke Catholic Church.
Jan Paynter: Hello. Iím Jan Paynter and I want to welcome you again to our program Politics Matters. We are very pleased to have as our guest today Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election. Welcome, Mr. McAuliffe.
Terry McAuliffe: Itís great to be back with you, Jan.
Jan Paynter: Terence Richard McAuliffe was born in Syracuse, New York. He received a BA from Catholic University and a JD from Georgetown University.
By age 30 he was the youngest chair of a bank in the history of the United States. In 1980 he worked for the Carter reelection campaign and became their national finance director. In 1988 he was finance chair for Democrat Dick Gephardt. In 1996 he served as national co-chairman of the Clinton/Gore reelection committee. In 1993 he received Clintonís first ambassadorial appointment to the Taej?n Expo South Korea. From 2001 to 2005 he chaired the Democratic National Committee raising $578 million for Democrats, taking the party out of debt for the first time in its history. While serving as chairman he founded a Womanís Vote Center to educate and mobilize women voters. In 2009 he founded the electrical vehicle startup company Greentech Automotive. His book What a Party was published in 2007. In 2008 he was campaign chair for Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination. In 2009 he ran for his partyís nomination for governor of Virginia and lost the race to Creigh Deeds. Terry McAuliffe resides in McLean, Virginia with his wife Dorothy and their five children. Welcome back, Terry.
Terry McAuliffe: Great to be back with you, Jan. Thank you.
Jan Paynter: As a back drop to our discussion today, Terry, we all know that issues of fiscal responsibility and economic growth are likely to dominate the 2013 governorís race. So first of all, with this in mind, given the immense state of challenges that we have, why do you want the job for governor of Virginia and how specifically have your activities between 2009 and í13 at Greentech Automotive and elsewhere helped prepare you for the job in this challenging time? So in essence, why should Virginians hire you?
Terry McAuliffe: Well, I think youíve hit the core question thatís going to confront the next governor. Itís going to be economic development and job creation. This is something I talk about every day, this is the reason why Iím running for governor. We need a governor whoís going to bring common sense, mainstream ideas, can work with both sides of the aisle to create new economic activity. Weíre going to have some challenges obviously in Virginia with the cutbacks in the federal budget. Since weíre the top recipient of federal budget dollars, itís going to have a big impact on what happens to us so your next governor needs to be focused every single day on how to grow the economy, how to diversify it, how to help the small businesses that we have here today and also how do we bring in those new businesses of the 21st century? As your governor, Iím going to have to compete against 200 other nations. Iím going to have to compete against 49 other states. In order to do that, we have to be competitive, we have to be at the top. In order to do that, I want to bring my business skills that Iíve had my entire life. I started my first business when I was 14 years old. I was going to have to help pay for college. I got to work sealing driveways then got into parking lots and have been in a variety of different businesses. I want to bring that business approach, that business experience to the job and with that the things that Iíve learned. I like every Virginian. Dorothy and I have lived in the same home in McLean, Virginia for 21 years, gone to the same church. We have five children. I want those five children to stay here and have jobs here. I want them to have families here. Like everybody else weíre selfish, we want our grandchildren close to us. But in order to do that, Jan, we need a governor whoís focused on this economic development and we need to create jobs for the 21st century. Iíve had a lot of experiences, Iíve learned a lot, I want to bring common sense mainstream business ideas to the governorís office which is so important but within that what experienceówhen I say that I think itís most importantly I will bring the experiences that I have had in business. We need research and development and within research and development it means transportation. I cannot tell you how important that is here in Virginia because if you want to grow a business, people have to be able to move their products around, families have to be able to move, you want quality of life issues. In northern Virginia where Dorothy and I live, it has been absolutely gridlocked. We spend 70 hours on average in Virginia and northern Virginiaó70 hours a year stuck in traffic. Itís a billion dollars wasted. 43 hours in Hampton roads, stuck, $1.7 billion combined just stuck in traffic. When Dorothy and I first moved to northern Virginia 21 years ago, Route 7 was great. Now you donít go near Route 7 at 4:00 in the afternoon. Itís a parking lot. So weíve got to deal with transportation. We canít deal with the potential loss of the federal match, a four to one match in 2017. Virginia, because we donít have the dollar for the four dollars, you need a governor whoís going to solve that issue.
Jan Paynter: So you must feel pretty good about the compromise bill that just came through the assembly, yes?
Terry McAuliffe: I do and as the press reported, I was very active in support of it. I called Democrats in the House and the Senate. Itís not a perfect bill but with a compromise you donít get everything that you want but it was a step in the right direction and I commend Governor McDonnell for putting out to get the ball rolling on transportation. Because of this loss of the federal match in 2017, billions of dollars of our money, Jan, that we pay in federal taxes goes to Washington, we werenít going to get it back, it was going to go to other states because we didnít have the dollar to put up to get the four dollars back from the feóirresponsible. But there are things in it that I didnít like. I didnít like the idea that we were taking general fund money out which could impact education and could affect public safety. So as governor Iím going to fix and tweak and do some things but it was a great first step and I commendóI mean, itís the first transportation progress weíve made in 27 years so I commend Governor McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bolling and the leaders of both parties in the general assembly for the work that they did on this.
Jan Paynter: Yeah, it was a rare bipartisan moment. Now letís talk about the automatic, across-the-board spending cuts which are the sequester. Thereís been so much as we all know in the news about this lately. What are some of the ways in which the sequester is likely to affect Virginia citizens and what actions would you take as governor to redress the shortfalls which would result of this taking effect?
Terry McAuliffe: Well, first Iíd say shame on everybody in Washington, D.C. that we are in this position. This is an absolute disgrace and the economic implications that are going to result from the inaction and blame goes to everybody up in Washington because weíve got to get folks to be able, Jan, to come into a room and sit down, negotiate and compromise. But for some reason that seems to be gone and for us in Virginia it is the devastation and the impact on our economy. Stephen Fuller of George Mason just recently came out with a report, over 200,000 jobs will be lost here in Virginia but you can go through aid to schools, you can go through every different category, itís going to have a tremendous impact on us and thatís why I say, your next governor has to be up to this challenge of gotta deal with these cuts, how will you diversify and how are you growing. And thatís why I say itís not only transportation but itís education. Iíve spent a lot of time in our community college. They are a crown jewel of higher ed that we have in Virginia. Three out of five of our Virginians go to higher ed go to a community college. Iím touring all 23 of them, theyíre on 40 campuses, spectacular. Workforce development, job training comes with the community colleges so Iím going to spend a lot of time obviously on education, important things we need to do but since 2008 the Commonwealthís contribution to the community colleges was about $4,400 per student. Thatís dropped down to $2,500. Spending our money wisely.
Jan Paynter: Well, the creative way is always going to be finding funds for this, right?
Terry McAuliffe: Well, itís finding funds but itís also beingóas a business person this is what I would bring to it, itís never throwing money at a project. Itís making sure youíre spending your money efficiently and there are a lot of inefficiencies. Frank Freeman right by here, Piedmont Virginia Community College, right here. I just toured that, spectacular what theyíre doing. Theyíre training folks in the defense industry as you know, they have nursing students. And what Frank had told meóI said, ĎFrank what would you do if you were governor?í He says, ĎTerry, if you could give me a little bit more autonomy here because let me just tell you, all this furniture you see in this new classroom, we had to purchase it from the Corrections Institute Project that they have where we have to buy them from the Corrections Instituteí. He said, ĎTerry, if you give me a little power to be able to negotiate and do this on my own, guess what. This furniture cost me a lot more money. I could have bought it much cheaper for you and saved the taxpayer money and itís not as good furniture. So if you give me a little more authority, then I can go out, save money, bring in a couple more professorsí because Frank, like Rappahannock, they turn away 100 qualified nursing students a year. Now, Jan, we need nurses today. They will immediately get a job as soon as they get their degree. So why is it that weíre not making sure that weíre getting those qualified students in and out into the workforce? I view education not as an expense but as an investment. But, youíve got to be efficient with the money, youíve got to spend that money right and you need to protect the taxpayer dollars so I say with education, itís not just about money, itís making sure weíre doing the best we can to make sure our children are getting the best education. But if you want me as governor to go beat nations around the world and other states, you want me to have the best educated workforce in the nation, best workforce training development and thatís something I would focus on.
Jan Paynter: So letís talk some more about how you would attract businesses to the state and also why did you locate Greentech out of state?
Terry McAuliffe: Well, our corporateówe tried, it didnít work out, it is what it is. But I would say, what we need to do in order to bring businesses here, we need to beóIíll go back to my points again. Itís transportationóand remember, Jan, we have always been in theóweíve dropped as you know but weíre always still in the top five for the best place to do business. But you know what has hurt usótransportation. Weíre down to 33rd in the nation and I cannot tell you for an employer bringing in whether it be 50 jobs, 100 or 1,000, those employees do not want to be stuck in traffic in northern Virginia for 70 hours a year or in Hampton Roads for 43 hours. They donít want it. You want to be able to go in the afternoon if you want to go see your kids, and Iíve been to lots of games with five kids playing multiple sports, lots of games in the afternoon. You canít make it a two or three hour adventure away from your work because youíre stuck in traffic. It goes to quality of life. So I would say as governor you can be very aggressive but itís got to have an education workforce development, weíve got to have transportation and youíve got to have focus. I come back to my point. I have done this. Iíve created lots of jobs, I would bring that common sense, pro-business, mainstream ideas to the job as governor and not aónot a focus of a social ideological agenda which divides people. We donít need to be attacking women, members of the GLBT community, we need to make it a welcoming place to do business. Thatís what employees want and thatís what I would focus on. Iíd bring my background, mainstream ideas, pro-business ideas, working with everybody, bringing people together, work with Democrats and Republicans. Jobs are not a partisan issue.
Jan Paynter: All right, letís talk about healthcare and I believe youíre very interested in preventative care. Talk a little bit about that if you would.
Terry McAuliffe: Well, first of all, I think as a business person, if you can save your money and spend money early on which saves you a lot of money on the back end, itís much preferable to do it and if we can keep our citizens here in Virginia healthy early and get them into preventive care then you donít have these catastrophic and gigantic costs further down the road. But in that regard, I think in this campaign itís going to be a big issue is the Medicaid expansion.
Jan Paynter: Exactly so.
Terry McAuliffe: And, my opponent as you know is against the expansion, Iím for it. Iím for it for a couple reasons. Number one, 400,000 to 500,000 Virginians will now have access to quality healthcare. So to go to our point that we mentioned earlier, I would rather have our citizenry healthy because it will save the state money on the back end. Itís very important, first off morally and socially but let me also make the point, the federal government will pay 100 percent for the first three years and 90 percent every year after. Remember, Jan, this is your money. This is Virginians money who paid their federal taxes into the federal coffers. Iím just going to get our money back here in Virginia. And as you know, a multitude of states with Republican governors, with conservative Republican governors, have accepted the Medicaid expansion. Thatís our money, I want it back taking care of Virginians but second, if we donít take it, because of the new change in the reimbursement rates that are taking effect, from the studies that I have read, our hospitals will incur $1.2 billion now in unreimbursable expenses. So Virginians should understand there is a cost in addition to the social human cost of healthcare, there is a cost to us in real dollars in not getting reimburseable dollars back that we used to get so people should understand. And finally the last point I would say, Richmond Times Dispatch did a story the other day. Over the next seven years we would be able to bring back into the Virginia economy $21 billion. As governor, I want that $21 billion rippling through our economy, through nurses and doctors and home healthcare providers. If we donít take it, we wonít get it. I want that $21óthat will create, that $21 billion, a lot of economic activity here. Finally, itís your money. I want thatówe paid that $21 billion in, I donít want that $21 billion going to another state. Thatís Virginiansí money, Virginians ought to get it back.
Jan Paynter: Well, it resonates with people. Terry, can we findówhat are some practical ways to move forward on issues of climate change?
Terry McAuliffe: Yes and you know the Presidentís made this a top priority. Obviously I haveóall the scientific reports out there today will say that obviously the climate change is occurring and there is a human involvement in the climate change. Every scientific study has shown that. And what Iíve always said and what Iíd like to do and clean energy is something Iíve talked about a lotÖ
Jan Paynter: Yes, you have.
Terry McAuliffe: Öitísófor a long time but itís important obviously for the environment but also look at itóand this is why I bring my business experience to itóthese are the jobs, Jan, of the 21st century. The idea of, letís just take care of Virginia, we are blessed. We have a beautiful coastline, we have a lot of wind out there. Using just very small parcels of what we have out in the ocean, we could literally light up 10,000 homes and at the same time create over 10,000 jobs. Building the turbines, the blades, everything that goes into the wind turbines, we could manufacture and at a time today where Southside Virginia and Southwest Virginia have been devastated by the loss of manufacturing because of textile and the furniture and the tobacco have gone away, what a great way to replace it with manufacturing of the gigantic poles, the rotors, the blades. We have the deepest port in the east coast, tremendous export opportunities for us. So I talkówhen I talk about this itís not only important for the environment but these are great job creators. When I talk about my five children staying here and having a job, renewable energy, clean energy, those are the jobs that will be part of the future workforce. We ought to be a leader here in Virginia and thatís why Iíve talked, and you and Iíve talked before. Weíre the only state in the mid-Atlantic without a mandatory renewable energy standard. If we had one, it would be ableósomeone whoís been in renewable energy field, it will lure investors and others who will come here to Virginia which will help us build new jobs in the 21st century.
Jan Paynter: Terry, what do you consider to be reasonable gun law proposals for the state of Virginia?
Terry McAuliffe: Iím a hunter, Iím a sportsman, I have a son at the Naval Academy, he and I and my 10 year old son, Peteróso Jack, Peter and myself love to go skeet shooting. I think what reasonable common sense idea is background check for everybody who purchases a gun. Itís very simple, it would only take a couple minutes to do it but if youíre going to buy a gun, thereís no reason someone canít say that they should run through a database so thatóto figure out if that person should or should not. If thereís someone out there obviously with domestic abuse and have been convicted of a crime, we should know that. Thatís a common sense approach. I supported Governor Wilderís one-gun-a-month. I thought that was a very reasonable approach. We donít need these magazine clips with all the ammunition in them, these gigantic clips. Also we ought to have working with the mental health. If there are issues there, that needs to be disclosed so we can get theóand no one should be stigmatized. We ought to beófor the diagnosis and the treatment, thatís what we ought to be doing. But I think Iím where most Americans are, just common sense reasonable approaches because, Jan, as a parentóand Dorothy and Ióa parent of five children, when you take your children and you drop them off at school or an afternoon athletic event, you want to feel confident that your children are going to be safe. I speak for every parent in Virginia thatówe just want to make sure some common sense safeguards are there so that we donít have to worry about the safety of our children and thatís what guides me.
Jan Paynter: Well, I know straw purchases of guns is also a huge issue. How can we ensure, Terry, that all Virginians are offered the opportunity to have their voices heard at the polls and in this regard, what is your position on the issue of retaining the voting rights provision? Do you believe that it is important to preserve it?
Terry McAuliffe: We are the greatest democracy in the world and we need to always uphold that to make it an easy process for folks who should beóare allowed to vote should be able to go in and vote and make it a great experience. I can tell youóon election night I was down in Richmond going down with then Senator Elect Kaine for his events down there and as soon as I got down there, I was asked if I could go out to a high school where there was voting going on. It was getting close to 7:00. If you remember, it was a cold evening. And there were 400 to 500 folks in line and they asked if I could go out because we wanted to make sure that people could stay in line. So I got some hot chocolate and some hand warmers and went out and drove out there with boxes and boxes in the back of our car and it was heartwarming, Jan, to see all these folks, hundreds in line cause if youíre there by 7:00 you get to vote. I was happy to be there and handing outómaking sure everybody stayed there but it shouldnít be like that. It shouldnít beóand this was a predominately African-American section with a lot of folks in line. Most of the folks there had their little children. It was freezing out. Come on, this is the United States of America. We need to make sure that people who have the right to vote can go in and exercise that constitutional right and not make it an onerous, over burdened problem for them. So I think as it comes to voting rights, weíve all got to work together. I think all of us are in agreement that if you have the right to vote, you ought to be able to go in and you ought to be able to do it quickly and efficiently. And I would work hard to make sure that everybody who has that right, that itís a good experience for them. And we canít be allowing any of these different types of things that are trying to inhibit people from voting. We donít wantówe want to let everybody in. Itís America!
Jan Paynter: Well, along the lines of thinking about voting and the November election, campaign finance reform is something which sticks around as a very important issue. As governor, would you make some moves in the direction of improving that?
Terry McAuliffe: Sure. I think I speak for most folks and Iíve been active in politics for a long time, thereís just way too much money in politics and theówhatever we can do to move it to get some of the money out of politics and to limit it, I would be 100 percent for and would be glad to sign that piece of legislation on my desk.
Jan Paynter: Well, it would certainly widen the pool of applicants which would be probably healthy for our democracy. Terry, I want to thank you very much for doing this program today and for being with us. Itís a pleasure as always to see you.
Terry McAuliffe: Well, thank you, Jan. Itís great to be with you.
Jan Paynter: We have reached out to Republican gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and hope that he will be able to join us for a discussion of his views as well. Thank you at home for joining our discussion. If you would like more information concerning the issues affecting our state of Virginia, we invite you to take a look at our website at politicsmatters.org. We will be posting a number of books, articles and relevant links on many of the discussion issues today there for you. You will also find there a complete archive of all prior Politics Matters programs which you may watch in their entirety at any time. We will be posting extended versions of interviews online on our new site and we will shortly be adding more content. As always, we are particularly interested in hearing from you with any and all questions, concerns and ideas for future programs. We encourage you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We air on PBS WVPT on the last Sunday of every month at 11:30 am. Thank you again and until next we meet, Iím Jan Paynter and this is Politics Matters.
Jan Paynter: First of all, Terry, tell us if you would what brought you to your focus, strong focus on energy and innovation and conservation concerns.
Terry McAuliffe: I think the most important issue out there facing everybody here in Virginia and all over the country is job creation. I believe that renewable energy, green technologies are the jobs of the 20th and 21st century, that we have to make sure weíre creating new jobs where weíre providing energy, the population is growing exponentially. Weíre going to have to figure out ways how we can deliver energy to consumers all over the country because China and others are really moving up their consumption and I think green technologies, wind, solar, biomass, theyíre the future. I personally have been invested in wind technologies now for close to 15, 20 years. I was a pioneer early on investing in European wind farms. The wind is always going to be there and if we can harness that efficiently, cost effectively, itís there for many, many years to come.
Jan Paynter: Turning to our broader discussion of green technology, energy innovation and conservation, why should people be interested in green technology in a severely challenged economy?
Terry McAuliffe: Yeah, itís a great question and I talk about this constantly. And I say to folks and I donít mean it negatively but Iím really not interested if you really care about climate change or not but assuming you do, obviously I do but if you donít, put that aside for a second. Itís also a huge national security issue. We import 58 percent of our oil from countries in the Middle East primarily who at times particularly donít like us. Our trade deficit goes up exponentially because the amount of oil that we have to import from countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and natural gas from Cutter and you go through the wholeóand 90 percent of our import oil goes to the transportation which isóthatís where most of the imported oil goes. We spent according to the Rand Corporation last year, Jan, $65 billion. On top of all this, just protecting the six straits like the Strait of Hormuz where the oil comes from. When you start adding all the incremental cost, we cannot as a nation allow our future to be tied to countries who could shut off the oil, take the cost of oil upóa barrel up dramatically. So for me itís national security. Second, itís about job creation. We are going to have to provide new ways for us to consume our energy and produce our energy and thatís why wind turbinesóand I always say this, Jan, we cannot be a nation that goes from importing oil from Middle eastern countries, 20 years from now where weíre importing our solar panels and our wind turbines from Germany, Brazil and China. We have got to get in this game. My five childrenís future is dependent upon whether weíre going to have jobs here in Virginia. We should be building turbines here and not buying them from China.