McAuliffe visits in Politics Prof. Larry Sabato’s last intro class
Virginia governor talks first 100 days in office
Gov. Terry McAuliffe visited Politics Prof. Larry Sabato’s Introduction to American Politics class Tuesday afternoon, marking Sabato’s last introductory politics lecture after 35 years. McAuliffe is among a long line of prominent policymakers to speak in Sabato’s class, including numerous presidents, senators and governors.
“It’s been a long and winding road of association with the University of Virginia stretching 44 years,” Sabato said. “In all that time, nothing has given me more pleasure than the three-and-a-half decades of teaching Intro to American Politics.”
Sabato began the class by reflecting on his time teaching the course. He emphasized that despite the frequent heat the field receives, politics is — at the end of the day — a good thing.
“Cynicism isn’t warranted, but realism is,” Sabato said.
He also stressed the importance of loyalty to the University and student membership in the community of trust tasked with paying Thomas Jefferson’s legacy forward.
“This semester and class are ending, but you and all the great things you will do are the future,” Sabato said.
Following his concluding remarks for the course, Sabato introduced Gov. McAuliffe, who lauded Sabato for his many accomplishments in the political field. He then officially declared May 3, 2014 Larry J. Sabato Day in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
McAuliffe, who recently celebrated his 100th day in office, then shifted discussion toward his gubernatorial term.
“I’m happy to say a lot the things I promised on the campaign we’ve actually done,” he said. “I want Virginia to be seen as opening and welcoming to everyone.”
McAuliffe emphasized the importance of his first two executive orders — the first being ending discrimination in the workplace and adding the phrase “gender identity” to the legal system. The second was placing a $100 gift ban on himself, his family, members of his administration and their families to encourage transparency within the Virginia government.
Citing his campaign’s focus on job creation and economic development, he went on to tell the class that because Virginia was the number one recipient of Department of Defense budget cuts during the sequester, there is a heightened need to replace assets and bring in new jobs.
“Education, transportation, health care, all the things I’ve promised — we got a lot done,” McAuliffe said.
In terms of education, McAuliffe said he is working to ignite entrepreneurial spirit by revising Standards of Learning testing. He also plans to refocus state energy on pre-kindergarten programs.
McAuliffe also said closing the coverage gap in health care was morally, economically and socially the right thing to do, and advocated for bipartisanship in the Virginia General Assembly.
“I’m willing to compromise anytime, day or night, to get this done,” McAuliffe said.
After his prepared remarks, McAuliffe opened the floor to questions. One covered the Democratic Party’s general position against coal and expressed concern as to whether this would result in job loss in southwest Virginia.
“It’s incumbent upon [the] governor and elected officers to try to figure out what jobs there are in 21st century as it relates to the coal business,” McAuliffe said. He went on to cite natural gas prices as the biggest detriment to the coal industry and said there will be growing need to export coal to China for the business to stay afloat.
The class concluded with an appearance by a Thomas Jefferson impersonator who recited a monologue for the class and congratulated both McAuliffe and Sabato on their vast accomplishments.