Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe snapped at a Virginia sheriff on Wednesday, after the law enforcement officer brought up the former governor’s acceptance of endorsements from leftist groups that support defunding the police.
The moment came during an event hosted by the Virginia Sheriff’s Association in Roanoke, wherein Montgomery County Sheriff Hank Partin questioned McAuliffe over his acceptance of an endorsement from an organization that has publicly called for defunding law enforcement.
“On July 20, you accepted an endorsement from the New Virginia Majority,” said Partin. “They are a large, ‘defund the police’ organization, who want to abolish prisons and [U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement] ICE. You’ve said that you were proud to accept their endorsement.”
In response, McAuliffe defended his acceptance of the endorsement, while also attacking Partin for bringing up the issue.
“Now first of all sheriff, I proudly accept any endorsements, I get hundreds and hundreds and hundreds,” he said. “Groups that support me, I don’t know whether they do. Have I ever supported ‘defund the police’? Are you out of your mind?”
When asked to commit to never defunding law enforcement, McAuliffe again snapped at the sheriff, while also declining to answer whether he would ever defund the police if reelected governor.
“If my track record of four years as governor is not enough for you to understand how I feel on law enforcement, then I will not dignify that with an answer,” he said. McAuliffe had previously served as governor of Virginia from 2014-2018.
WATCH: Terry McAuliffe explodes on a Virginia sheriff when confronted over his support for ending qualified immunity and his embrace of groups that want to defund the police.
Treating law enforcement officers with such contempt is disqualifying. pic.twitter.com/0oajV3dQY7
— Matt Wolking (@MattWolking) September 16, 2021
A review of New Virginia Majority’s Twitter feed finds Partin’s accusations to be true, with the organization repeatedly calling for defunding law enforcement and abolishing ICE.
“Defund the police and invest in education, health care, and housing for our communities!” the group said in a June 2020 tweet.
Defund the police and invest in education, health care, and housing for our communities! https://t.co/yfhCP0pPNT
— New Virginia Majority (@NewVAMajority) June 22, 2020
Defund the police, fund Black futures. https://t.co/XaX1zqviOf
— New Virginia Majority (@NewVAMajority) June 4, 2020
ABOLISH ICE. https://t.co/A2lUiitu2t
— New Virginia Majority (@NewVAMajority) September 19, 2019
Upon the organization’s endorsement of McAuliffe for the 2021 gubernatorial race, the former governor took to Twitter to say that he was “proud” to have their support.
“Together, we are going to keep Virginia moving forward,” he said. “That starts with building a more inclusive Commonwealth that lifts up working people across Virginia. Onward!”
Proud to be endorsed by @NewVAMajority. Together, we are going to keep Virginia moving forward. That starts with building a more inclusive Commonwealth that lifts up working people across Virginia. Onward! pic.twitter.com/TjCkewmor1
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) July 20, 2021
The acceptance of New Virginia Majority’s July 20 endorsement is hardly the first time McAuliffe has embraced the support of groups that want to defund law enforcement, however. A day prior, the Democrat gubernatorial candidate had accepted the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, a pro-abortion group that called for defunding the police in June 2020.
McAuliffe’s GOP opponent Glenn Youngkin quickly responded to the matter, with campaign spokesman Christian Martinez telling The Federalist that the former governor “has a record of retaliating against sheriffs who don’t give him total loyalty.”
“McAuliffe turned his back on law enforcement officers by refusing to meet with the Virginia Police Benevolent Association and embracing radical groups that want to defund the police and abolish prisons,” Martinez said. “McAuliffe failed to keep Virginians safe the last time he was governor, and he will fail again with his anti-police policies that are too dangerous and extreme for Virginia.”