Often attacked by liberals as a conservative hardliner on social issues, Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli is airing a new, positive television ad that is being praised for showing the Republican’s compassionate side.
The advertisement tells the story of Cuccinelli’s work as attorney general of Virginia that led to the exoneration of Thomas Haynesworth, an innocent black man, who wrongly spent 27 years in prison on rape convictions, it was determined.
“After going through all of the evidence, I was convinced that Thomas Haynesworth was innocent,” Cuccinelli says in the ad. “And I took that case on myself.”
Haynesworth himself appears in the ad in support of Cuccinelli. “To me, he’s a hell of a guy.”
Political observers noted that the ad could help soften Cuccinelli’s image.
“Broadens image beyond divisive social issues,” University of Virginia politics expert Larry Sabato said Tuesday. “Where was this in spring?”
The ad comes after prognosticators like Sabato have said the race appears to be slipping from Cuccinelli in favor of Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe. A recent Quinnipiac shows McAuliffe beating Cuccinelli 48 percent to 42 percent.