Sharing the stage with Bill Clinton this week,Terry McAuliffe was hoping to recapture the enthusiasm that helped Democrats win Virginia in the last two presidential elections.
"All of you in this room worked incredibly hard in 2012," McAuliffe told the crowd in Blacksburg, "and even with the millions spent on television ads, we know it was the grass roots energy and turnout that mattered the most."
Terry McAuliffe grew up in Syracuse, New York.
An entrepreneur, businessman and fundraiser, he's never held elective office, but he led the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005.
He and his wife Dorothy have 5 children. They've lived in Fairfax County for over 20 years.
"My opponent has spent his career as an ideologue," McAuliffe told us in an interview Wednesday afternoon. "He was against transportation. He's against the Medicaid expansion. I'm for getting things done working together."
As a businessman turned politician, McAuliffe compares himself to U.S. Senator Mark Warner. His opponents see a different candidate.
They've attacked him for what they consider unethical business practices, for promising more than he delivered with companies like Greentech Automotive and for his support of environmental regulations that could threaten southwestern Virginia's coal economy.
McAuliffe said he hasn't paid attention to the attacks. "I haven't spent any, not one ounce of thought thinking about what they're saying," McAuliffe said. "I'm talking about what I want to get done. People want to know, 'what are you going to do for me.' People are hurting."
And though his opponents say he cannot deliver on all of his promises without raising taxes, McAuliffe says he will move Virginia forward with sound financial policy and a bipartisan approach.
"I've proven in this campaign, if you just look at the Republicans: Jim Gilmore's Chief of Staff, the Republican Mayor of the largest city in Virginia, 12 former Republican legislators, George Bush's Finance Chairman at the Republican National Committee have all come out to endorse me, because they say Terry will get things done. And he will get things done in a pragmatic, mainstream way. "