In a spirited interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd Sunday, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Hillary Clinton can win Virginia with a progressive agenda, citing his own success running for governor in 2013.
McAuliffe made his comments on Meet the Press, outlining how Democratic stances from marriage equality to women’s rights gave him the keys to the Governor’s Mansion, and in his view, will help Clinton win the Commonwealth.
McAuliffe said the policies he shares with Clinton helped Virginia attract a diverse array of families and businesses, and issues linked to growing the economy will be key to winning the Old Dominion.
“I’m all about creating economic activity,” McAuliffe said. “All these issues that Hillary has championed on pre-k, reforming education, reforming our transportation system, we’ve done that in Virginia.”
Todd countered McAuliffe’s point, saying he was unsure of Clinton’s message at this stage of her campaign.
The conversation turned towards honesty and trustworthiness, with Todd citing an April 9 Quinnipiac University poll that found 52 percent of Virginia voters think Clinton is not honest and trustworthy.
WATCH: Governor McAuliffe full Meet the Press Interview
Video courtesy NBC News, Meet the Press
“What does she have to do to close that gap?” Todd asked.
“Talk to the voters,” McAuliffe replied.
The governor applauded Clinton’s recent rollout strategy, saying small events will help the candidate connect with everyday people. McAuliffe served as chair of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, and co-chair of President Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign.
“I thought it was spectacular,” McAuliffe said of Clinton’s announcement video and subsequent “Mystery Machine” bus trip to Iowa.
“You didn’t think it was too scripted?” Todd replied.
“She went to a community college, she took notes, you learn,” McAuliffe said “That’s the best part of running for office… Your policies evolve because you’re talking to folks whose lives are impacted every single day.”
The conversation also focused on how Clinton can look fresh, when she is from a political dynasty and has a name from the past.
“I think it comes down to the issues,” McAuliffe said. “What voters want, is someone who lays an agenda on how to move the country forward.
“Let her lay out her positive agenda. It’s what I did when I ran for governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2013, we had a historic win.”
In terms of connecting with everyday Americans, Todd highlighted a passage from McAuliffe’s 2008 book, “What A Party!: My Life Among Democrats: Presidents, Candidates, Donors, Activists, Alligators and Other Wild Animals.”
Todd focused on a section of the book in which McAuliffe quotes Clinton saying she and her husband were bankrupt after they left the White House.
“We owned nothing,” the passage reads. “We didn’t own a car. We didn’t own a house. Here we were, fifty years old, and we owned nothing.”
Todd pointed out many would say the Clintons had huge earning potential from future speeches and appearances, their troubles small in comparison to those of ordinary voters.
“Is this something she has to fix if she’s going to connect with everyday Americans?” Todd asked.
“I cannot tell you the distress in that family at that time,” McAuliffe said. “With all the issues and all the legal fees. Banks refusing to even give them a mortgage. So listen, people go through tough financial times."
The governor continued that tough times, from family to finances, could show that Clinton can relate to Americans and their concerns.
“Her own mother was abandoned. You never forget that," McAuliffe said. "That's why Hillary is out every single day talking to voters about, ‘How can I make your life better?’”