(CNSNews.com) - Democrat Terry McAuliffe, hoping to serve a second term as Virginia governor, made it clear on Sunday he's running against Donald Trump, who isn't on the ballot and hasn't actively campaigned for McAuliffe's challenger, Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Yet in the course of his 12-minute interview with CNN's "State of the Union," McAuliffe mentioned Trump's name 18 times -- so often, in fact, that host Dana Bash joked, "I'm glad I have two cups here, so I can keep drinking when you mention Donald Trump's name."
McAuliffe said several times that he's "running against a Donald Trump wannabee." He accused his opponent Youngkin of wanting to do a "Donald Trump-Betsy DeVos education system," whatever that is.
Then later in the interview, McAuliffe said: "My opponent, as you know, is a Trump wannabe who has been endorsed by Trump five times. He said so much of the reason he's running is because of Donald Trump. But he will take money out of education, public, and put it into private. We can't -- he wants to ban abortions. He wants to go on the offense on abortions. He has said the number one issue, election integrity. He just said two days ago that he wants an audit of our voting machines. I wonder why Donald Trump hasn't come to Virginia..."
Later, McAuliffe repeated the latter remark: "And I'm just surprised Trump hasn't gone to Virginia yet," he said.
McAuliffe said he has "20 big plans to take Virginia next level." They include raising teacher pay, broadband for every child in Virginia, educating at-risk 3- and 4-year-olds, and supporting the leftist agenda now being pushed by congressional Democrats:
"I'm traveling all over Virginia. They're worried about minimum wage. They want child care. They want elderly care. They want to see paid sick leave, family medical leave, which I will tell you, my opponent is against every one of those things. I am for that. They want them to get their job done. They're paid to get up in Washington, get this done," he said.
McAuliffe, describing himself as a "very straight shooter," expressed frustration with "Washington" for the failure so far to pass both infrastructure bills, a package approaching $5 trillion, to be spent on new entitlement programs and the green new deal.
"You bet I'm frustrated," McAuliffe said. But he insisted that the failure to pass the two bills is not "dragging me down."
"I worry about the people of Virginia who want family medical leave, who want -- I want to raise the minimum wage." McAuliffe said.
"This is what I want them to do in Washington, Democrats, Republicans -- when I was governor. Let's figure this out. No one's leaving the room until we all get something."
The McAuliffe-Younkin race is neck and neck heading into the November election.