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Lesson Learned: MA Thesis comes back to haunt Virginia Republican candidate for governor September 14, 2009

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Republican candidate for Virginia’s open governor’s position, Bob McDonnell, has learned a valuable lesson: All of your statements on politics, even those made in a 20-year-old MA thesis, can come back to haunt you. The Washington Post revealed the nature of McDonnell’s thesis to its readers after he discussed it briefly during an interview with a writer from the newspaper. As a student at Regent University, McDonnell wrote on welfare policy, and made a number of offensive comments in his thesis, including: an argument that feminism is poisoning America’s families, a claim that government policy should favor married couples over “cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators,” and a characterization of a 1972 Supreme Court decision legalizing contraception as illogical.

Though McDonnell quickly addressed the news by claiming that his views have changed significantly over the last 20 years, his campaign’s strategy has been to ignore the crisis. In fact, McDonnell has ignored his opponent’s discussion of moral issues altogether, banking on the idea that Americans would rather hear about policy positions on the economy and health care.

For more on this story, see the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  How might have this crisis for the McDonnell campaign been prevented?

2.  Why is the news of the MA thesis so dangerous to McDonnell’s campaign?

3.  Was McDonnell’s initial response to the crisis effective in repairing his image? Why, or why not?

4.  Why might ignoring this issue be a smart move for McDonnell? Why is the strategy risky?



1. Ben Hoffman - September 14, 2009

Ha! Republicans get a taste of their own medicine! 🙂

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