McAuliffe releases ad hitting Youngkin on education attacks

McAuliffe releases ad hitting Youngkin on education attacks
© Greg Nash

Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeDemocrats anxious over Abrams silence on Georgia governor bid Winsome Sears to begin historic new chapter as Virginia lt. governor Five issues that will define the months until the midterms  MORE (D) is releasing a new ad to counter an attack campaign from Republican Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinWinsome Sears to begin historic new chapter as Virginia lt. governor Five issues that will define the months until the midterms  Five reasons for Biden, GOP to be thankful this season MORE that featured a mother who pushed to have the 1987 novel "Beloved" banned from her son's English curriculum. 

The 30-second digital ad, titled "Wrong," features a Black Virginia mother, LaNoral, who says she was "scared" when she heard "about Glenn Youngkin wanting to ban books by prominent Black authors." 

"We know what this is about," she says. "It’s the same politics we saw from Donald TrumpDonald TrumpPence: Supreme Court has chance to right 'historic wrong' with abortion ruling Prosecutor says during trial that actor Jussie Smollett staged 'fake hate crime' Overnight Defense & National Security — US, Iran return to negotiating table MORE, meant to divide us." 

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The ad is the latest counteroffensive from McAuliffe on the subject. McAuliffe, President BidenJoe BidenDearborn office of Rep. Debbie Dingell vandalized Pfizer to apply for COVID-19 booster approval for 16- and 17-year-olds: report Coronavirus variant raises fresh concerns for economy MORE, and a number of prominent Virginia Democrats hit Youngkin over the ad at a rally on Tuesday in Arlington. McAuliffe's staff also handed out copies of "Beloved," along with a bookmark saying "Glenn Youngkin will ban books in Virginia schools." 

Youngkin's team has pushed back against the notion that the ad was racist. They have said that the mother featured in the ad, Laura Murphy, pushed schools in 2013 to tell parents if books in their children's curriculum contained explicit content and to allow students to opt-out of reading the material. 

Murphy has said she met with lawmakers, who agreed with her on the issue. The pieces of legislation were eventually vetoed by McAuliffe when he was governor. 

Youngkin's campaign also released a list of 18 Virginia Democratic lawmakers who supported the legislation McAuliffe vetoed. Fourteen of the lawmakers listed were a part of the General Assembly's Black Caucus.

Murphy did not reveal in the campaign ad for Youngkin that the book in question was the Toni Morrison novel "Beloved," which tells the story of former slaves after the Civil War and depicts some of the horrors of slavery in graphic detail. However, a resurfaced Washington Post article from 2013 featured an interview with Murphy and her son Blake.

Blake Murphy told the publication that the book was "disgusting" and "hard for him to handle," adding that he eventually gave up on it.

Murphy said she did not want the book banned completely, but rather until new policies that addressed explicit material for students were put in place. 

“I’m not some crazy book burner,” Murphy said. “I have great respect and admiration for our Fairfax County educators. The school system is second to none. But I disagree with the administration at a policy level.”