Oppo-research on Bolling papers indicates McDonnell thesis was not an innocent find

Washington Post writer Amy Gardner claimed that she was cued into Bob McDonnell’s thesis because of an interview the paper conducted with him.

“The Washington Post learned of the thesis in a recent interview with McDonnell, who mentioned it in answering a question about his political roots.”

She went onto write “McDonnell brought up the paper in reference to a pair of Republican congressmen whom he interviewed as part of his research. McDonnell then offered: ‘I wrote my thesis on welfare policy.'”

Yet she was very quick to look into the thesis after the interview.

Was this passing comment in the interview that interesting to her? Was it vitally important to her investigative research to learn more about it?

Not likely…especially given this new piece of information:

On Coy Barefoot’s Charlottesville Right Now, towards the end of the show, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling revealed that he learned Democratic operatives were looking into his college work around the time the WaPO story broke.

“I had a call from the president of my college over in Charleston, West Virginia that I attended when I was getting my bachelor’s degree in political science,” said Bolling. “He called to tell me that sure enough there was a researcher or an investigator from the other side digging through the library trying to find something I had written as a college student that they could use against me.”

Bolling said the call came shortly after the story broke, so it’s possible the Democrats were clued into doing this type of oppo-research on the rest of the field after reading the story. However, it’s awfully coincidental.

  • I actually agree with you that some Democrats probably did know about Bob McDonnell’s thesis. I also think that Republicans were looking for the same types of things from Democratic candidates. As you so rightly called it, it’s oppo research and any paid professional campaign manager who didn’t conduct it would probably be fired for dereliction of duty. It’s their job to know their opponent’s weaknesses.

    Nevertheless, it is a reporter’s job to listen carefully to the comments of those she interviews and to dig further. Reporters and writers are notoriously curious people, as are bloggers, btw. If Amy Gardner hadn’t followed up, she too would have been negligent in her duty as a reporter.

    She also apparently did check into Creigh Deeds’ writings in law school. Unfortunately, they were more boring than Bob McDonnell’s wrtings were.

    In either case, this stuff is apparently publicly available. It would be naive to think people wouldn’t dig it up. If you’re going to run for office, scrutiny of your past statements, writings, and opinions just goes with the territory.

    Note to candidates: If you wrote it or said it, stand by it or explain clearly why you changed your mind and what you think now. And yes, that goes for Democrats too.

  • Mark

    Did they make him write it? But then I guess he was just another dumb “college student” and he didn’t mean any of it – a 34 year old grad student that is…

    Typical flip-flopping politician.

  • “Typical flip-flopping politician.”

    Maybe I missed something, but when has Bob McDonnell brought up the paper again? He hasn’t gotten defensive, and the only people referencing it these days are Democrats and the Washington Post.

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