McAuliffe’s “official” launch finds him focused on jobs, when his real challenge is turnoutPoliticsVirginia

Terry McAuliffe “officially” launched his gubernatorial campaign yesterday with a whirlwind tour of the state. At his Richmond stop, McAuliffe held a join appearance with Sen. Tim Kaine, who despite his personal and policy differences with McAuliffe, did manage to say this about the man who would be governor:

“We want somebody who wakes up thinking about jobs, thinking about the economy, thinking about finding a great deal, thinking about training the workforce,” Kaine said. “That’s why I’m supporting Terry McAuliffe to be the next governor of the Commonwealth.”

My preference is for someone who wakes up and thinks about getting the coffee started. But the talking points, from both Kaine and McAuliffe, are similar: this race is all about jobs, jobs, jobs. You think Bob was for jobs in 2009? You haven’t seen anything yet. Terry will think about jobs to the exclusion of everything else. It’s almost like a Dilbert cartoon

But buried in the WaPo write-up of the Richmond event was the real issue facing McAuliffe:

Enthusiasm will be key to victory in this fall’s off-year election, as voter turnout traditionally plummets in the year following a presidential contest. A Washington Post poll shows an early lead for Cuccinelli, though many voters are undecided about whom they will support.

To that end, McAuliffe urged the audience to show their support at the polls this fall.

“Do not sit at home and think that last year mattered more than this year,” he said. “Folks, we need that intensity again.”

Not exactly Henry V material. But for McAuliffe, convincing those less engaged Obama voters to go to the polls for him is his biggest job. So far, he’s trailing even Creigh Deeds in that department.

And that does not bode well for his campaign.

It does help explain his other major talking point, the importance and value of community colleges. His campaign believes his voters can be found on or near those campuses. He’s reaching for the graduates of those institutions and their families (and their employers). Is this universe large enough to close the gaps in his campaign? Perhaps at the margins. But in what could develop into a close race with Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe needs to work every margin and angle he can.

Which for a born hustler, ought to come quite naturally.