Previewing the Score: Terry McAuliffe on the shutdown and acting presidential

Talking very much like a presidential candidate looking to displace Donald Trump, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe told Bearing Drift today in a brief interview that he will decide by March 31 whether to throw his hat into the fast-expanding ring of Democratic hopefuls for their party’s 2020 nomination.

Terry McAuliffe presidential candidate Virginia governorMcAuliffe was the keynote speaker at the UVA Center for Politics’ 20th annual American Democracy Conference, held in the ballroom of Alumni Hall on the grounds of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Bearing Drift caught him after his speech, as he was leaving the building.

Asked how he would handle the kind of impasse that has led to a now-35-day partial government shutdown, McAuliffe said:

“First, I would never have gotten us into this situation. Trump bragged about it in the Oval Office meeting, was looking forward to it, wanted to shut it down, said ‘I want this. This is my shut down.’”

He noted that, just prior to December 22, when the shutdown began, the Senate had voted unanimously to approve a temporary federal funding bill that Trump had indicated he would sign. “Then he turned around the next day because of Rush Limbaugh and said, ‘I won’t sign it.’”

As governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe explained, “I had a very Republican legislature, as you know. I got over 70% of my government and administration bills actually passed because I worked with” the Republicans in the General Assembly, despite disagreements on social issues.

Although he had, he said, “a record 120 vetoes, more than any governor in the history of the state,” McAuliffe noted that “on economic development and education and transportation, we got along and, if I were president, that would be the same way.”

People can disagree, he said. “There’s nothing wrong with doing that but the insanity in the games that Donald Trump plays and I say — I’ve known the man for 20 years — he was never up to the job, he has not risen in the job, and it’s unfortunate for America. That’s why today he’s got a 34% approval rating.”

When asked if it is possible for a president to govern effectively while relying solely or primarily on his political base, McAuliffe replied:

“Once you are President of the United States, you represent everybody. Everybody should have a say, you treat everybody with dignity and respect — even people who, let’s say, vote against me or worked against me.

“You’re the president now,” he concluded. “Forget the politics, you have to rise above it and represent everybody.”

Listen to the entire interview here, exclusively on Bearing Drift.

The next episode of The Score will also feature interviews with former White House political advisors Paul Begala and Karl Rove, former Delegate David I. Ramadan, and former Republican Party of Virginia chair Kate Obenshain. Look for the podcast here on Saturday morning or, if you are in the Winchester area, listen to the broadcast on WINC-AM&FM at 7:00 o’clock AM that same day.