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Date published: 2/8/2013
RICHMOND--If Virginia's ultra-conservative attorney general needs to appeal to moderate Republicans in his campaign for governor, his new book probably isn't going to help.
In "The Last Line of Defense," Ken Cuccinelli argues that the federal government and President Barack Obama's administration--which he labels "the biggest set of lawbreakers in America"--are eroding individual liberties and exceeding constitutional boundaries.
He says politicians use programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid to trap people into a cycle of government dependency to boost their own power rather than to try to help them.
Those are all points sure to resonate with Cuccinelli's conservative base--including the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation, which he thanks in the book's acknowledgements--and provide fodder for opponents to use against him in November's gubernatorial election.
Cuccinelli said he's not worried about that.
"This book wasn't written for politics. It wasn't written for a governor's race. It was written because we believe the government continues to burden and attack liberty, and we need to push back," Cuccinelli said in an interview.
The book will be released Tuesday, and media reports based on excerpts or advance reviews already have prompted criticism. Among the passages drawing the most attention are those dealing with federal safety net programs.
"These programs make people dependent on government," Cuccinelli writes. "And once people are dependent, they feel they can't afford to have the programs taken away, no matter how inefficient, poorly run or costly to the rest of society."
He also writes: "Sometimes bad politicians set out to grow government in order to increase their own power and influence. The amazing thing is that they often grow government without protest from citizens, and sometimes they even get buy-in from citizens--at least from the ones getting the goodies."
Democratic legislators criticized those remarks as demeaning to benefit recipients. Cuccinelli dismissed the reactions as partisan attacks.
Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who abandoned his bid for the GOP nomination for governor after the party's governing body switched from a primary to a convention that will be stacked with Cuccinelli supporters, said he hasn't read the book but disagrees with excerpts he's seen reported in the press.