Analysis: McDonnell Playing Defense on Thesis

GOP gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell insists this race is not about social issues.

But he’s had to spend a lot of time — and now, money — defending his record on abortion, equal pay and contraception.

Friday, McDonnell’s campaign launched two new television ads that deal directly with the the controversy surrounding the candidate’s views on those issues.

One of the spots features McDonnell’s daughter Jeanine, an Iraq war veteran, discussing her father’s record on women’s issues.

The other commercial uses clips from statewide newspapers to paint Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds as dishonest.

The ads will run in the Northern Virginia, Richmond, Norfolk and Charlottesville markets.

Notice that these two spots won’t appear on televisions in Southside or southwest Virginia, in the generally conservative Roanoke and Lynchburg media markets.

That’s not an accident.

McDonnell is polling extremely well in those areas. Plus, the Deeds claims that the GOP candidate wants to pursue a “radical social agenda” are more likely to impact McDonnell among moderates in Richmond, Charlottesville and NoVa.

Tucker Martin, McDonnell’s communications director, disagrees with the assertion that the new ads mean the campaign is playing defense.

“We are running  two positive issue ads, one ad noting what newspapers are saying about Creigh’s overwhelmingly negative campaign, and a bio spot about Bob as a father,” Martin said in an e-mail.

“It’s a multi-faceted positive advertising effort hitting a number of points.”

But at this stage in the race, it’s safe to say no candidate wants to spend time or money on anything other than his central message —  in McDonnell’s case: jobs.

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