Q&A with Terry McAuliffe

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

After addressing the Brown Democrats Monday night, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe spoke with The Herald about the new Democratic Congress, current DNC Chairman Howard Dean and fundraising in the 2008 presidential race.

Herald: What can Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., do in Congress to best help Democrats’ chances in 2008?

McAuliffe: Show that they can govern. Provide real health care, education, pass an immigration bill for the president to sign. What they want to see from us isn’t partisan bickering but results. They want to see results on the things that affect people every day. Their incomes are down, they don’t have health care, they don’t feel there is quality education, and a disastrous foreign policy.

Do you think it will help public perception of the Democrats to pass bills in Congress they know the president will veto?

If they think it’s right, they ought to pass it and let the chips fall where they may. If the veto happens, so be it.

What do you think of Howard Dean’s 50-state strategy?

I’m all for it. I did it with him a week before he came in, and I said, “Howard, the national party is fixed, now you’ve got to focus on the state parties.”

How have Democratic politics changed since fundraising increased so drastically under your leadership?

I think the biggest change is that there are now so many more people involved with the democratic process, because so many more young people, so many more people are giving money on the Internet. I think it’s expanding greatly the universe of people involved with the Democratic Party. I think you’ve got a lot more people now who have voice and they want to hear their candidates talking about issues that are important to them.

What do you think about recent attempts to crack down on soft money?

I’ve said this many times, if you’re going to get rid of soft money, you have to get rid of all of it. Right now you’ve got gigantic loopholes, you have the 527s. You’ve got to remember, in ’04, probably the most significant ad that was done was the Swift Boat ad – that wasn’t done by the campaign, that was done by a 527. There are gigantic loopholes that people can use to give large amounts of money. If you’re going to get rid of soft money, get rid of all of it.

Have you been surprised by Barack Obama’s ability to raise money for his campaign?

Well I’ve been hearing for a while that he was going to raise a lot of money. He put together a great operation, and he’s been working very hard. As I’ve said, there isn’t a donor I’ve called who Barack hasn’t called four or five times. I think it’s great, I still think this is great for the process. I think that getting more people involved in it, bringing more people in will ultimately be great for our party. We collectively raised $80 (million) and they raised $40 (million) and that’s all good for us. So I wasn’t surprised.

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