In recent years Virginia voters have moved well beyond the radical and failed right wing policies of politicians such as Jim Gilmore (although many of those loony birds hold on in the House of Delegates). Today, Virginia is more moderate, bluer, more tolerant, looking forward to a progressive future. This presented a problem for McDonnell who rose through the Christian conservative faction of the Republican Party on the nurturing knee of the television pastor.
To get elected McDonnell would have to change - make that appear to change - to be more in line with those changes in Virginia. His slick message handlers have used the power of TV propaganda to brand McDonnell as a moderate, almost making him appear and sound like a Mark Warner. Don't buy the lie.
Now in '89 Thesis A Different Side of McDonnell, Amy Gardner of the Washington Post has disclosed his political beginnings and core beliefs:
At age 34, two years before his first election and two decades before he would run for governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell submitted a master's thesis to the evangelical school he was attending in Virginia Beach in which he described working women and feminists as "detrimental" to the family. He said government policy should favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." He described as "illogical" a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing the use of contraception by unmarried couples.The 93-page document, which is publicly available at the Regent University library, culminates with a 15-point action plan that McDonnell said the Republican Party should follow to protect American families -- a vision that he started to put into action soon after he was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates.During his 14 years in the General Assembly, McDonnell pursued at least 10 of the policy goals he laid out in that research paper, including abortion restrictions, covenant marriage, school vouchers and tax policies to favor his view of the traditional family. In 2001, he voted against a resolution in support of ending wage discrimination between men and women.
Even his friends seem to acknowledge the difficult position McDonnell has placed himself in by this unabashed rebranding of his image. Delegate Robert Marshall (R- Pr. William), a right wing political ally, thinks McDonnell has gotten himself between a rock and a hard place - turning off moderates who think he's hiding something and scaring conservatives who fear he has sold them out.