The question of whether the Redskins should change their name has, from time to time, entered the political arena. On Wednesday night, the issue arose during a Virginia gubernatorial debate.
Specifically, moderator Chuck Todd asked the two candidates, Ken Cuccinelli (Rep.) and Terry McAuliffe (Dem.) whether they believe the name should be changed, and whether it is offensive to Native Americans.
“I think that is up to [the team] entirely,” Cuccinelli said, via 106.7 The Fan in D.C. “I think that eighty years of history with that team is kind of hard to leave behind. I understand that. I also don’t think RGIII should have been played in the second quarter of the playoffs last year.”
“I don’t think the governor ought to be telling private businesses what they should do about their business,” McAuliffe said.
“Even if it’s offensive to people?” Todd said.
“I don’t think the governor should be telling private business what they [should do],” McAuliffe said.
“Do you have a personal opinion on it?” Todd said.
“As governor, I’m not going to tell Dan Snyder or anybody else what they should do with their business,” McAuliffe said, “and I want to congratulate the Redskins, because I went down to the training practice here in Richmond and it is spectacular.”
Both candidates avoided the question of whether they find the name to be offensive. Both candidates also provided the smart answer to the question of whether the name should be changed.
They’re running for the office of governor in Virginia, where the team holds training camp, where it may eventually have a stadium, and where plenty of fans who like the name reside. Even if either or both of the candidates personally believe the name to be offensive, they gain nothing by admitting it — and they potentially lose the race if they say they think the name should be changed.
McAuliffe was the most careful, since he comes from the party more closely associated with the push to change the name. He viewed the potato as so hot that he offered up a statement that could be applied to any other business on any other issue, from the environment to employee rights to taxes.
“I don’t think the governor ought to be telling private businesses what they should do about their business.”
Government routinely tells private business what they should do about their business. But McAuliffe apparently saw that answer as the easiest way to punt a political football that otherwise could have struck him right in the crotch.