Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe attacked his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, on Wednesday, accusing him of trying to foist a "far-right social agenda" on the Old Dominion state on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
Youngkin previously told Fox News that McAuliffe had twisted his words on these issues.
"Glenn Youngkin’s far-right social agenda is WRONG for Virginia," McAuliffe posted on Twitter. "From abortion rights to same-sex marriage to book banning. He wants to take us back."
McAuliffe has previously attacked Youngkin on these issues, but the Republican told Fox News that the Democrat had created a straw-man candidate to run against.
"He honestly is making up a candidate," Youngkin told Fox News Saturday.
"Everything he says deserves ‘four Pinocchios’ and ‘Pants on Fire,’" the Republican added, mentioning the worst possible fact-check ratings from the Washington Post and PolitiFact.
On abortion, McAuliffe claimed that Youngkin would bring laws like the landmark Texas abortion law to Virginia.
"Women's lives are going to be put at risk. Doctors are going to be put in jail," McAuliffe said.
In the first debate with McAuliffe back in September, however, Youngkin said he would not sign a Virginia version of the Texas abortion bill. In September, the Washington Post's fact-checker gave McAuliffe "Two Pinocchios" for his claims that Youngkin would ban abortions.
McAuliffe has also claimed that Youngkin opposes same-sex marriage. In an interview with the Washington Blade, the Democrat called his Republican opponent "the most homophobic, anti-choice candidate in Virginia history."
This claim appears to trace back to an interview with the Associated Press. Youngkin told the AP that he feels "called to love everyone," but he said that statement was not intended to convey support for same-sex marriage. He did say, however, that same-sex marriage is "legally acceptable" in Virginia.
"I, as governor, will support that," he added.
"As Glenn said, gay marriage is the law in Virginia, and he will support the law as governor," a Youngkin campaign spokesperson told Fox News on Wednesday. "Glenn spoke up when pride flags were destroyed because he believes in respecting everyone and protecting everyone."
As for the claim about "book banning," McAuliffe appears to have been referencing a previous claim that Youngkin is "focused on banning award-winning books from our schools & silencing the voices of Black authors."
Parents claim that the books "Genderqueer" and "Lawn Boy" — incidentally written by white authors — contain graphic images inappropriate for adolescents. Parents have also raised concerns about Black author Toni Morrison's "Beloved," which contains graphic depictions of sex, violence and bestiality, while describing the horrors of slavery.
Youngkin said that he did not wish to ban books, but to notify parents. He embraced two bills that McAuliffe vetoed when he was governor. H.B. 516 would have required schools to notify parents if a teacher planned to provide "instructional material that includes sexually explicit content," and if a parent objected, the law would require teachers to provide "nonexplicit instructional material," instead. H.B. 2191 had similar provisions.
Yet in a September debate, McAuliffe claimed that the bills would have given parents the right to "veto books" and "take them off the shelves." The Washington Post faulted the Democrat for having "mischaracterized the bills he vetoed."
"Eighteen Democrats, including 14 Black caucus members, voted for a bill that would have notified parents of sexually explicit material in their children's classroom and provided them with alternate material, and Glenn would have signed that bill, unlike Terry McAuliffe, who launched his attack on parents the day he vetoed that bill," a Youngkin spokesperson told Fox News on Wednesday.
"Yet again, parents who raise concerns about what their children are learning — and the kinds of materials to which they have access — are being denigrated and smeared by politicians," Nicole Neily, president of Parents Defending Education and a Virginia mother, told Fox News on Wednesday.
She claimed that "many schools are actively working to undermine families' values and preferences."
The McAuliffe campaign did not respond to Fox News' request for comment by press time.