From NBC's Mark Murray
As expected, the Deeds campaign has pounced on yesterday's front-page Washington Post story on Bob McDonnell's 1989 graduate thesis at Pat Robertson's Regent University -- which called feminism an enemy to the traditional family; said government policy should benefit married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals, or fornicators"; and criticized a Supreme Court ruling legalizing contraception for unmarried couples.
In a conference call with reporters, Deeds strategist Mo Elleithee called the thesis "devastating," arguing that it had the potential to change the dynamics of a race that McDonnell is currently leading according to polls. "It shows just how out of the mainstream he is," Elleithee said. "He is out of touch with most Virginians."
Asked how McDonnell's thesis, which he wrote when he was 34, was any different from Jim Webb's (D) controversial writings about women -- which became fodder during the 2006 Webb-Allen Senate race -- Elleithee responded that the thesis turned out to serve as a "blueprint" for how McDonnell governed in Virginia as a state legislator.
Indeed, the Deeds camp said McDonnell opposed child care in Virginia legislature; he opposed pay-equity laws; and he sponsored or co-sponsored numerous pieces of legislation restricting abortion rights.
"This paper laid out, very specifically, his vision for the role of government," Elleithee said. "This is who Bob McDonnell is. This is how he has governed."
The McDonnell camp says it will be holding its own conference call at 3:00 pm ET.