In the first five minutes of his first State of the Commonwealth address, [Virginia Gov. Terry] McAuliffe said he wanted to make Virginia the East Coast capital for agriculture and forestry. At the time, it was third behind Georgia and North Carolina; today it has overtaken North Carolina.
“He is uniquely positioned to be successful at it,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade. “Why? Because he knows everybody everywhere.”
McAuliffe formed many of those international relationships traveling the world with President Bill Clinton, with whom he remains close.
In fact, McAuliffe is so tight with the Clintons, some wonder whether his TPP gaffe wasn’t a strategic move designed to reassure moderates, business leaders and even Republicans that free trade is here to stay. (McAuliffe rejected that theory outright.)
“This is someone they have trusted for a long time and someone who’s been very central to their political lives,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a political historian at Princeton University and a fellow at New America, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. “It’s not inconceivable that this is part of the campaign — let him take the heat. . . . But the message is out there.”