Terry McAuliffe is, by his own admission, impatient. He made this confession at a bloggers conference call this morning. In answer to Vivian Paige's question, "what is your greatest weakness," McAuliffe didn't hesitate to state it was his impatience. "I want to get it done yesterday," he said.
Not a surprise. That's probably the great fault - if it's a fault at all - of most charismatic visionaries. And that he is.
Ask anybody who's met him and the first thing they'll mention is his energy and enthusiasm. It's almost a cliche. And both were in great abundance during this morning's blogger's conference call in which I participated. Other participants included Aimee Fausser, Rick Howell, and conservatives Jim Hoeft and Norman Leahy. They all have interesting takes on it, so go visit their sites.
Terry McAuliffe spoke fast and juggled a lot of balls in the air without dropping any of them. He has a vision and a bunch of creative ideas for Virginia.
The first thing he stressed was his business experience, beginning when he started his first business at age 14. It was called McAuliffe Driveway Maintenance (no, that wasn't mentioned on the conference call; I looked it up) By the age of 30, he was Chairman of the Federal City National Bank. McAuliffe also claims to have started five successful businessses in Virginia. In addition to his business acumen, McAuliffe racked up political success as a Democrat who landed a job on Jimmy Carter's 1980 re-election campaign and at the age of 22 became Carter's national finance director. He has since served the DNC in many roles including that of chairman from 2001 to 2005.
In answer to a question on the budget shortfall, McAuliffe took raising taxes off the table, stating, "You don't raise taxes in a recession." It was a point he returned to several times.
On the other hand, he emphasized that Virginia needed a revenue stream so that programs would not be cut either. Indeed, he wants to raise teachers' salaries to the national average so that Virginia can retain the best teachers. Right now, we lose almost half our teachers, in some areas, to other states. McAuliffe also would like to see smaller class sizes for K-3.
He also would like to see Virginia schools build gyms again to fight childhood obesity. On the issue of health care reform, he expects Virginia to benefit from Obama's health care plans. He also reminded his listeners that, as a friend of Hillary Clinton, he is no stranger to health care reform efforts.
He came up with one intriguing solution to a problem that gets little attention but that everybody knows exists in populous areas of the state: Long waits to get doctor's appointments. I know that I have long thought this was the dirty little secret of our health care delivery system. In Northern Virginia, it can take a woman up to six months to get an appointment for a routine mammogram. Getting an appointment with your family doctor can take up to a week, and during flu season you sometimes risk getting complications before you can actually get into a doctor's office. I was surprised to hear a politician finally recognize this obstacle to truly good health care.
McAuliffe's solution is to provide targeted tax cuts as an incentive for doctors to practice in Virginia. In addition, he stressed placing more emphasis on preventive medicine and encouraging physical fitness.
Returning to the theme of increasing the revenue stream to Virginia, McAuliffe said that although our state has been cited as the best place to do business, we have not been as competitive as we could be at attracting new business. This is especially true in Southside and Southwest. McAuliffe mentioned creating enterprise zones and stressed the need for public private partnerships to solve our problems and keep the level of service that many Virginians value. McAuliffe also suggested that he would donate his salary.
On energy, he also came up with the offbeat idea of converting chicken waste into renewable fuels and would support wind farms. He's been a leader in supporting alternative energy solutions. And he cited the need to finally solve Virginia's transportation problems, envisioning a role for light rail. Again, he stressed the need for a revenue stream, growing the economy and bringing in good paying jobs to accomplish his ambitious goals.
Within about 20 minutes the fast talking McAuliffe had laid out a vision and a platform that proved he's more than ready to take on the competition for the governor's race. With his boundless energy, he reminded me of a runaway train, hurtling toward the next big idea - and wanting it yesterday. And it was refreshing. While I remain undecided, he has certainly caught my attention. And I hope yours.
If so, you can visit his website to find out more.