Attorney General and Republican Gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli gave a speech to kick off this past weekend’s CPAC. Jim Riley at Virginia Virtucon called it “a full-throated defense of free-markets as well as standing up for the defenseless and the oppressed.” Yet some on the right decided that Ken’s speech and refusal to sign ATR’s “No Tax Pledge” makes him a squish.

Shaun Kenney had one heck of a defense of Cuccinelli over at Bearing Drift:

Folks — let me toss something out there. The day conservatives such as Ken Cuccinelli are deemed too soft for the Ivory soap crowd, it’s safe to say that those people are outside the boundaries of the conservative movement.

The full transcript of the speech is here, but the meat of it — and a tiny bit of insight as to why Cuccinelli repudiated the ATR pledge — can be summarized in the points Ken makes in his CPAC comments:

(1) Simplify and create a more fair tax code.
(2) Kill regulations and streamline government.
(3) Rein in government spending.
(4) Refuse to settle for mediocrity in education.
(5) Restore the dignity of all human life.

So where’s the complaint coming from? Trained observers can detect this from a mile away… Cuccinelli’s kickoff (and a detailed platform at that) is an inherently Catholic weltanschaung.

It’s not a libertarian one… and that’s gonna hurt.

The full post is worth a few minutes of your time to read. While some of the national media and even members of the Republican Party want to call this a “reset” or a shift to the center, Shaun highlights the basis for Cuccinelli’s views and demonstrates how this is the same Ken Cuccinelli that we have always known.

Even the Washington Post has recognized the “social justice” side of Cuccinelli and his work, as shown in a bio the Washington Post Magazine ran in 2010 that enraged some Democrats for daring to show a side of Cuccinelli that didn’t fit their narrative:

By April 1991, he was standing with a candle in his hand on the steps of the university’s Rotunda, the historic center of the genteel campus designed by Thomas Jefferson. Cuccinelli was an organizer of dozens of student protesters who occupied the steps for 134 hours — one for each of the 134 alleged victims of sexual assault at the university the previous year — and demanded that the university fund the new full-time position of sexual assault education coordinator.

“The university tried like hell to talk us out of it,” recalls Alexia Pittas, another leader of the demonstration, now a lawyer in Savannah. “I can remember Ken standing next to me. Ken said, ‘Lex, I’ll go to jail with you. I’ll go to jail for this.'”

Pittas was surprised. Cuccinelli showed signs of being what some campus social anthropologists referred to as the classic “Joe Wahoo,” the preppy, careerist, gung-ho U-Va. male, clad in J. Crew or the equivalent, baseball cap worn backward. Members of this tribe did not collaborate with Women’s Center feminists such as Pittas, who thought that fraternities should be banned “because of the predatory nature of men drinking in packs.” Cuccinelli was a frat boy by inclination; he rushed a fraternity but didn’t end up joining because events conflicted with training to become a residential adviser.

“I said to him, ‘Why are you doing this?'” Pittas recalls. “This isn’t your issue. I remember him looking at me and saying: This is everybody’s issue.”

Just hours into the vigil, the university proposed hiring a part-time coordinator. The vigil continued for the full 134 hours. Before the year was out, a full-time coordinator was hired.

Victory.

“The thing about Ken Cuccinelli is, there’s right and there’s wrong, and there’s very little of a liberal gray in between,” Pittas says. “If he deems something to be wrong, he will pursue it, no matter the cost.”

Keep in mind, despite helping fight for the creation of UVA’s Sexual Assault Education Coordinator, he still has been criticized at times by coordinator Claire Kaplan. It’s not about what’s politically expedient or best for Cuccinelli – it’s about what is right.

So while Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe is left stumped about who makes up the Governor’s cabinet, Cuccinelli is throwing out some red meat and demonstrating exactly the kind of man he is and Governor he will be.

Tumbnail photo by Gage Skidmore.