Mark ducks out, Terry gets angry

Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie appeared at a forum in Danville Tuesday night and while the reporting shows each man stuck to his talking points, there was also this:

After the forum, ABC 13 News spoke with Gillespie, asking him about his poll numbers and if the increase is a too little, too late. The republican candidate says three weeks is a long time.

“I see momentum going our way and really in fact over the past five months, we have come from behind 29 points down to single digits. I think that shows the momentum we have,” said Gillespie.

ABC 13 News reached out to Warner throughout the night to comment on a number of topics, including his declining poll numbers. He did not comment.

Giving the press the brush-off is a sure way to draw more attention to your problems, Senator. You know that. But it also looks like the Puckett affair has taken up just enough room in your head to make you forget it.

And Mr. Gillespie? If you aren’t pushing the Puckett narrative every single day, you are frittering away an issue that keeps on giving.

As we learn this morning, Gov. McAuliffe managed to fire off an “angry phone call” at Phil Puckett after his resignation:

The call, one of at least two McAuliffe made to Puckett, and confirmed by Puckett’s attorney, reflected the governor’s personal rancor toward the former senator over the impact of his resignation. It allowed Republicans to block an attempt to draw down federal health care dollars that McAuliffe wanted to use to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of uninsured Virginians.

“It was an angry call,” said Puckett’s attorney, Tom Bondurant, of the Roanoke law firm Gentry, Locke, Rakes & Moore. He declined further comment on the message and its contents.

Several people familiar with the message said the governor closed his remarks with words to the effect that he hoped Puckett could live with his decision.

McAuliffe is only human and emotions get the best of us from time to time. His spokesman, Brian Coy, says McAuliffe would do it all over again.

But only a tyro pol leaves his venom in a voicemail. And a staffer who condones it? Can’t anybody in Governor’s office play this game?

Apparently not. But we are left to wonder when the transcript of this call will appear in the press. It ought to make for very entertaining reading, particularly against the backdrop of Terry McAuliffe’s own words regarding the calls his chief of staff, Paul Reagan, made to Puckett:

[This is] “not how we do business in the commonwealth.”

Which is a lie.

If McAuliffe doesn’t become more restrained, and if Phil Puckett gets even madder, the Governor may find himself on the wrong end of questions like “what did you know and when did you know it?” Given Tuesday’s revelations, don’t look for Mark Warner or Paul Reagan to give Terry much help on the timeline.

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