Terry McAuliffe is under fire for an alleged gaffe. He’s got plenty of company.

Photo of Terry McAuliffe by Win McNamee/Getty Images


10/16/2021 07:00 AM EDT

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Jeff Greenfield is a five-time Emmy-winning network television analyst and author.

Democrats were already reaching for the Maalox as they saw polls showing a tight race in the Virginia governor’s race, when the once (and possibly future) governor Terry McAuliffe handed Republicans a gift of great price.

Speaking at a debate late last month, McAuliffe responded to the culture war seizing public education — a fight largely centered on racial matters — by saying, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Whether it’s a reasonable position or not, within a day, the campaign of McAuliffe’s opponent, Glenn Youngkin, launched a six-figure digital ad buy highlighting the comment. By mid-October, it had become the centerpiece of the Republican’s campaign.

McAuliffe may still pull out the win in a state that has trended increasingly blue; the latest polls show him with a mid-single digit lead, and the antipathy of Virginia to Donald Trump may turn out to be the key factor.

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