CHARLOTTE – Making the rounds here at the Democratic National Convention, Virginia businessman Terry McAuliffe left little doubt that he’d run for governor next year.
Though he barely touched on the topic in an address to Virginia’s delegation Thursday morning, the former Democratic National Committee chairman didn’t shy away from the topic afterwards.
“The key is going to be who can diversify the Virginia economy — who can bring in the new jobs, and grow the jobs that we have here. That’s something I’ve focused on, I’ve done it my whole life,” he said. “That’s the only reason I want to run for governor.”
Still, McAuliffe stopped short of guaranteeing his candidacy.
“I want this convention to be about Barack Obama,” he said, adding that he was also waiting for U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Va., to close the door on a run before announcing.
Saying that he expected Warner to make a final decision soon after the Nov. 6 election, McAuliffe said he would make his own announcement “a day or two” later.
McAuliffe sought the Democratic nomination for governor in 2009, but lost to state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, who was in turn defeated by Gov. Bob McDonnell.
Commenting on the already-underway battle for next year’s GOP nomination between Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, McAuliffe did hint that he expected to face Cuccinelli if he jumps into the race.
“I think the attorney general showed his strength when he was able to go to [the Republican] state central committee and change it from a primary to a convention,” he said. “I think that very significant of who controls the Republican Party here in Virginia.”
A close friend of former President Bill Clinton and one of the Democratic Party’s top fundraisers, McAuliffe said that he expected a close and expensive contest next year.
“Hypothetically, if it ended up being Ken Cuccinelli versus Terry McAuliffe, I know that would get you guys excited,” he said to reporters with a laugh.
In his remarks to the delegation, McAuliffe said he’d stayed up until 4:30 a.m. with Clinton following the former president’s lengthy Wednesday night speech.
McAuliffe said that Clinton had remarked: “I honestly believe it, this is more important than any election I ever had.’”
He later added: “I just can’t tell you how much this speech meant to him. This clearly could have been one of the best speeches of his life, honestly.”
McAuliffe also joked about spending time recently with the former president and his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on vacation.
“Going on vacation with the Clintons is like going to a policy seminar,” he said. “All day, morning to night…I’m thinking, God just let me get out of here.”
He ad-libbed: “Yes sir, I understand Medicare and Medicaid, I get it. Happy hour started and hour-and-a-half ago, sir.”
The ever-boisterous McAuliffe urged Democrats to take home the enthusiasm from the convention and apply it not only to this year’s presidential and critical U.S. Senare races, but to next year’s statewide elections.
He closed: “Folks, I’m excited. But then again, I’m always excited. It is what it is.”