McAuliffe on Day before Inauguration: ‘I am Prepared’ - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McAuliffe on Day before Inauguration: ‘I am Prepared’

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Terry McAuliffe Terry McAuliffe

Governor Terry McAuliffe will soon have the opportunity to recast the old dominion in his vision. That begs the question: what stays and what gets changed? So NBC29 asked him.

McAuliffe's vision for the next four years sounds similar to what we heard from Bob McDonnell four years ago, jobs, business, the economy, but entering office for the first time, McAuliffe will have a steep road ahead.

If you travel east on Interstate 64, and avoid the traffic, you can make it from Charlottesville to the state capitol in about an hour. But for Terry McAuliffe, the road to Richmond has taken five years.

“I ran in '09. It didn't work out, but I got up the next day, as Virginians do, I dusted myself off, and I went right back out there again,” McAuliffe said.

Now that journey is coming to an end, as a new journey begins.

“We have a ceremonial thing where the governor hands me keys…and they're still painting and stuff so I don't think I can get into the mansion until Monday,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe will take the oath of office Saturday, on the steps of the state capitol. Unlike his predecessor, it will be McAuliffe's first time in elected office.

“I am prepared. But listen, I've done many different things in many different avenues all over the globe my whole life,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe points to his experience in business, and running political campaigns. When it comes to governing, McAuliffe says that business background will be important.

“What do you need from the governor? I'm like the chairman of the board, you need me up there setting the goals and the agenda, and let folks go and work their agencies and departments and do what they need to do,” McAuliffe said.

McAuliffe's cabinet includes three veterans returning from the McDonnell administration, which is part of why he credits McDonnell with what he's calling "the smoothest transition in Virginia history."

“He'd pick up the phone on a weekend, just call me to check in with me – ‘How's it going? Anything you need to know?’ Which is great, I mean that's how it should work,” he said.

He's optimistic he can work with Republican lawmakers to strengthen state ethics laws, improve the mental health system, and reform the Standards of Learning. His goal of expanding Medicaid health coverage won't be as easy. But McAuliffe spent five years fighting for this job, and now it's his turn at bat.

“If you think you can really make a difference, you've got to step up to the plate. I'm ready to get going,” he said.

This won't be McAuliffe's first inauguration; he was chair of President Bill Clinton's back in 1997. So it's only fitting that Saturday, 17 years later, Bill and Hillary Clinton will both be there in Richmond to see their friend sworn in.

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