Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, is under fire for a college thesis he wrote two decades ago. In it, he bashes “cohabitators, homosexuals and fornicators” and claims working women are “detrimental” to the family.
Since The Washington Post first revealed the thesis Sunday, McDonnell has vehemently claimed his positions have changed, while his opponent has racked up an additional 300 donors.
The treatise is the latest erstwhile paper to come back to haunt a public figure. When Michelle Obama‘s Princeton thesis about race was unearthed during the presidential campaign, more than 20 years after she originally penned it, conservatives claimed it proved she hated whites. More recently, Sarah Palin accused Ezekial Emanuel of being a “death panel“-advocate based on a paper he wrote about health care 13 years ago.
But while both these cases involved word-twisting by adversaries, McDonnell’s controversial views are much more explicit. It’s hard to claim you’re being misrepresented when you write “[W]hen the exercise of liberty takes the shape of pornography, drug abuse, or homosexuality, the government must restrain, punish, and deter,” or claim public schools should teach “traditional Judeo-Christian values.” (To read the whole thesis—which includes many other choice nuggets—click here.)
It’s not out of the question that McDonnell’s views have shifted, considering how long ago his thesis was written. But proving that’s the case is going to be an extremely uphill battle.