HOTSEAT- Mac attack: McAuliffe aims to energize Richmond as governor

Terry McAuliffe

Got a question for Democratic candidate for governor Terry McAuliffe? You're likely to get a "big idea" in his response.

After 30 years spent running political campaigns, why choose now as the first time to be a candidate for public office?

"At a time like this," he answers, "anyone who has big ideas ought to run."

How does his experience as chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 2000 through 2005 influence how he'll govern?

"I came in with big ideas about how to run our campaigns."

After decades spent fighting to get Democrats elected, how does he hope to work with Republicans as a governor?

"Because I'm a pretty good salesman, and I've got big ideas."

Such is the theme of McAuliffe's candidacy, as he hopes to make the transition from helping to run national political campaigns for Democrats like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Dick Gephardt, and John Kerry to becoming a political office-holder himself as the next Governor of Virginia.

Of course, having done much of his work for the last two decades inside the Beltway, critics are quick to throw around the c-word: carpetbagger.

"I've lived in Virginia for the last 20 years," says McAuliffe. "I don't think you can live in Northern Virginia without seeing the issues we have with transportation every day. If you think the people in Richmond have done a good job on an issue like that, I'm not your candidate."

While he's complimentary of the way Governors Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have run the Commonwealth, his vision for Virginia is that of a lean, mean, job-creating machine.

"There are so many opportunities out there for Virginia," says McAuliffe. "Let's start a factory for more energy-efficient lithium batteries. Let's manufacture the wind turbines that will be part of the renewable energy this country needs. Let's take advantage of the $178 billion President Obama has just set aside for the digitization of heath care records. Why can't we be at the front of all these innovations and create thousands of jobs for Virginians?"

Despite his vision for the future, McAuliffe's detractors continue to dog him with his past, which includes some potentially polarizing clients. At a recent speech, a heckler repeatedly shouted at McAuliffe, "Where's Hillary?" After the fifth time, McAuliffe had his comeback.

"Hey, I think you've got a crush on her!" McAuliffe shouted back from the stage. "Why don't you let me give you her number?"

Regardless of the outcome of the election, what won't change is the way McAuliffe says he thrives on conflict.

"I love mixing it up," says McAuliffe. "In every office I've ever had, I have put those words of Teddy Roosevelt's on my wall, 'The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.' I love being the guy in the arena."

Age: 52

What do you like best about Charlottesville? The energy and innovation of all the young people and talented UVA faculty.

Favorite hangout here? My field office, of course, everyone should hang out there! 2116 Angus Road.

Most overrated virtue? Patience– there's just so much I want to get done!

People would be surprised to know about you: I am very handy around the house- Mr. Fix-It!

What would you change about yourself? I wish I could dance

People find most annoying about you: I have endless energy, and that sometimes gets on people's nerves.

Favorite book? My New York Times bestseller, What a Party!

Subject that causes you to rant? Missed opportunities

Biggest 21st-century thrill? Seeing our nation elect its first African-American president

Biggest 21st-century creep out? Global warming

What do you drive? Hybrid Chevy Tahoe

In your car CD player right now: Gnarls Barkley

Next journey? Full steam ahead to Richmond!

Most trouble you've ever gotten in? Getting kicked out of the third grade for talking too much and having to carry my desk to another teacher's room.

Regret: Not having enough time in the day

Favorite comfort food: Hamburgers off the backyard grill

Always in your refrigerator: Duke's Peppers

Must-see TV: Must-see TV is father-son time in our house, so I have to watch Tom and Jerry with Peter and 24 with Jack.

Describe a perfect day: Spending time with Dorothy and the kids

Walter Mitty fantasy: Being an F-18 fighter pilot

Who'd play you in the movie? Vince Vaughn

Most embarrassing moment? See my answer for most trouble I've ever gotten into.

Best advice you ever got? Be nice to everybody.

Favorite bumper sticker? "Terry McAuliffe for Governor."