GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnellspent nearly an hour and a half Monday defending himself from withering criticism about his controversial Master’s thesis, in which he said government should protect people from feminism, homosexuals and cohabitants.
During a conference call with reporters, McDonnell said his views have changed since 1989, when he wrote the paper as a student at Regent University, the conservative college founded by evangelist Pat Robertson.
“This election is not about a 20 year old academic thesis,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell said his time in the General Assembly should prove that he is not interested in changing Virginia law on contraception and school vouchers.
“It’s just not borne out in my legislative record.”
McDonnell said he followed the law when he served as state attorney general and would do so again if elected governor. He called attempts to paint him as a crusader for social issues were a “flat misrepresentation.”
Perhaps McDonnell’s strongest words were reserved for those who criticize his words about women in the workplace. In the thesis, he suggested that working women are a danger to the family.
McDonnell said he “absolutely and fully repudiate[s]” those words, adding that his own daughters prove he completely supports successful women.
“For my opponent to suggest otherwise…is insulting to me and my family,” he said of Democrat Creigh Deeds.
McDonnell also said he regrets language in the term paper that “denigrates the basic dignity or worth of any human being” — particularly gays and women.
But McDonnell did not reject the entire thesis, especially parts related to his opposition to abortion and support for traditional marriage. He said his beliefs on those topics were rooted in his Catholic faith.
During the call — which included reporters from nearly every media outlet in the state, plus national political reporters — McDonnell also took a shot at Deeds.
“I understand why my opponent continues to insist on making social issues a part of his campaign,” McDonnell said. He claims that Deeds doesn’t have plans for governing if elected and would rather “focus on a former president, a former governor and decades old academic papers.”