Trump says matchup between Perdue and Kemp will be 'interesting,' stops short of endorsement
McAuliffe campaign pushes back at ABC affiliate after ending interview
Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe's campaign is hitting back at a local Washington, D.C., news station after the outlet wrote that he "abruptly ended" an interview with one of its reporters on Tuesday.
WJLA, also known as 7 News and owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, aired an interview with the former governor in which McAuliffe got up to leave after a member of his staff said, "We're already over time."
"All right. We're over. That's it," McAuliffe told WJLA's Nick Minock.
"Hey. I gave you extra time. Come on, man," he said, appearing to be talking to the reporter.
"You should have asked better questions," he continued. "You should have asked questions your viewers care about."
When WJLA later aired the interview, a WJLA anchor said McAuliffe intentionally cut the interview short.
"We do want to point out that the Terry McAuliffe interview is shorter than the interview with Glenn Youngkin," the anchor said. "That was not by our doing. Nick offered both candidates 20 minutes exactly to be fair for the interviews. McAuliffe abruptly ended 7 News's interview after just 10 minutes and told Nick that he should have asked better questions and that he should have asked questions 7 News viewers care about."
But the interview appears to have gone on for 11 minutes, and McAuliffe press secretary Renzo Olivari tweeted out text messages with Minock that appear to show that Minock and the campaign had agreed to a 10-minute interview.
"It's really unfortunate to see @7NewsDC mislead viewers by saying Terry 'abruptly' left an interview that was ALWAYS scheduled to be 10 mins long, which @NickMinock agreed to beforehand," Olivari said in a tweet on Wednesday.
"And in the video you can see how lighthearted and joking Terry was after the interview," Olivari added.
The texts show Olivari explaining that the campaign had an event in Fairfax County the same day and saying, "We have about 10 minutes for it. Let me know if we can confirm."
"Let's do it. Thank You," Minock replied.
While Youngkin sat down with Mintock for 20 minutes, McAuliffe's campaign reiterated to The Hill that McAuliffe could do just a 10-minute interview due to scheduling and that Minock was in agreement.
The campaign said it reached out to WJLA and Minock on Tuesday and requested a correction be made to the anchor's comments, citing the 10 minutes the two parties previously agreed to and that the interview ended up going over time.
The Hill has reached out to WJLA for comment.
Youngkin and his GOP allies pounced on the clip Wednesday, claiming that McAuliffe had abruptly left the interview.
"This is what Terry McAuliffe does, I guess," Youngkin told Fox News. "I think he might feel entitled because, he thinks, he was governor - but he didn't do a good job - people shouldn't ask him hard questions?"
"Here's Terry McAuliffe, who won't even answer questions from a local reporter. He yells at sheriffs. He barks at people all the time," he continued. "I think he's losing it because he knows this race is slipping away from him."
Youngkin's comments come after he addressed a crowd nearing 1,000 at an event in Northern Virginia. The Republican candidate did not take questions from reporters camped out after the event wrapped.
The back-and-forth comes as the governor's race tightens with less than two weeks to go until Election Day. A Monmouth University poll released on Wednesday showed the race tied at 46 percent among registered Virginia voters. On top of that, Youngkin leads with independent voters 48 to 39 percent. The poll also showed Republicans leading Democrats on enthusiasm, with 49 percent of Republican voters saying they are more enthusiastic than usual to vote in the election compared with 26 percent of Democrats.