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PBS's Bellantoni Sees 'Very Conservative' Cuccinelli, 'Fighting Against' 'Freedoms' Like Abortion

Media Research CenterAppearing as a guest on Sunday's Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC, PBS's Christina Bellantoni labeled Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli as "very conservative," but, when discussing presumptive Democratic nominee and former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, the PBS NewsHour political editor did not include a liberal ideological label.

Additionally, as she recounted Cuccinelli's history of opposing abortion, she euphemistically inserted the word "freedoms" as being what the Virginia attorney general and former state senator has a record of "fighting against." Discussing Cuccinelli and GOP lieutenant govenor nominee E. W. Jackson, Bellantoni asserted:

He has long been a very conservative Republican. And these are both two very religious Republicans. Ken Cuccinelli is a Catholic. He's very similar to Santorum in his policies and his positions there. He's long been fighting against all different types of abortion, freedoms that you might say.

As she explained Cuccinelli's advantage against current Republican Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling in a convention selection process, she even included an ideological label of Bolling as "pretty conservative." Bellantoni:

They chose a convention for a reason. It's one of the reasons Ken Cuccinelli ended up with a clear field instead of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling running. He's a slightly more moderate Republican. Still, a pretty conservative Republican.

A bit later, McAuliffe was a topic of conversation without receiving a liberal label, but, when Cuccinelli was brought up again, he received a second "very conservative" label. Bellantoni:

He has some political skill that has him connecting with voters, and he also strongly believes what he's saying. He's very conservative and might not be in line with all the people in Virginia, but it's that Rick Santorum thing, again, where it's that connection and authenticity that sometimes has him doing well.

Below is the relevant portion of the Sunday, May 26, Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC:

MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY: Christina, you have been following Virginia politics as a reporter for a long time now. What do you see in terms of sort of how the populous looks, how the electorate looks versus what this particular slate of candidates looks like?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, POLITICAL EDITOR, PBS NEWS HOUR: Well, that's exactly the right question because it's activists, Republican activists, a few thousand of them that physically go to a convention that chose E.W. Jackson to be their candidate. They chose a convention for a reason. It's one of the reasons Ken Cuccinelli ended up with a clear field instead of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling running. He's a slightly more moderate Republican. Still, a pretty conservative Republican.

But, so you have these activists pick him after those four rounds of balloting. The other thing, when you showed that map of Virginia, it's not purple everywhere. The biggest populations in Virginia are in northern Virginia. That's because of the Washington suburbs, the economy is actually really good in Virginia. It's had a lower than average unemployment rate. I think it's at about five percent, maybe a little lower right now.

HARRIS-PERRY: Because, of course, government can create jobs. And so, in part, because northern Virginia has so many federal government workers, they haven't had the same kind of hit from the economy.

BELLANTONI: Absolutely. There's also technology that's actually happening in northern Virginia. So that's not necessarily representative of the state. But, what's interesting here is it's not necessarily about what they're saying. It's about the actions. And E.W. Jackson does not have a policy record here.

Ken Cuccinelli does. He was a state senator before he was attorney general. He has long been a very conservative Republican. And these are both two very religious Republicans. Ken Cuccinelli is a catholic. He's very similar to Santorum in his policies and his positions there. He's long been fighting against all different types of abortion, freedoms that you might say. So this is a long-standing fight for him. And it's definitely a platform that he's going to run on.

(...)

BELLANTONI: Don't forget, he did run for governor last time around. He lost in the primary there. And that was in part because voters consistently were telling people that they didn't find him authentic. They didn't really find him genuine. They didn't really find him to be much of a Virginian. They knew him on the national stage having been long time fundraiser, Hillary Clinton's biggest booster, DNC chairman, all that.

It's also important, we were talking about Virginia traditions and that culture of independence. They have traditionally elected a party opposite of the party that won the White House every time they have this off-year governor's selection. But McAuliffe is changing his tune a little. He's trying to make this economic message. He's been out there trying to connect with Virginians for the last four years knowing that he was going to run again, but when you talk to voters, they still don't necessarily feel as warm about him.

And Ken Cuccinelli, long-time state senator before he became attorney general, now he's been attorney general, very well known, and he's also a very good retail politician. He has some political skill that has him connecting with voters, and he also strongly believes what he's saying. He's very conservative and might not be in line with all the people in Virginia, but it's that Rick Santorum thing, again, where it's that connection and authenticity that sometimes has him doing well. There are a lot of polls that show him either tied with McAuliffe or leading McAuliffe.

-- Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center