Archive for October 2009
The intense sprint across the Commonwealth ended in Richmond Saturday night for Democratic nominee for Governor Creigh Deeds. Sen. Deeds greeted an active group of volunteers at his coordinated campaign headquarters on Broad Street, with Attorney General nominee Steve Shannon. A visibly tired Deeds, still seemed upbeat and positive and did not seem all that concerned polls show him behind. Instead he focused on a plan that his team has had in place for sometime that he believes has the potential to push him over the top, despite what the polls have to say.
I asked Deeds about a renewed focus on the so-called “surge” voters, people who came out to vote in the historic election of Barack Obama, but that don’t seem as inclined or enthusiastic to come out to vote for him. Deeds said that they have always worked to tap into that group, but starting October 1st they began the process of specifically identifying them and finding ways to get them to the polls. He said that both volunteers and paid staff members will have their boots on the ground getting Deeds voters to the polls.
Here is my entire interview with him, uncut:
I also talked to Steve Shannon, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, he and his campaign are pushing a story involving his opponent Ken Cuccinelli, where Cuccinelli discussed the AG’s office discrimination policy with the editorial board of the Virginian-Pilot. Their endorsement of Shannon led to a Washington-Post called Cuccinelli’s remarks “bigotry”. Shannon reminded me of that, but wasn’t prepared to call Cuccinelli a bigot himself.
Here is the clip:
Republican candidate for Governor, Bob McDonnell and his GOP ticketmates drew a crowd of more than 300 people at an event in Chesterfield County today (Saturday).
The event was part of the Republican “New Jobs, More Opportunities: It Starts Now!” Statewide Tour. McDonnell and Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Sen. Ken Cuccinelli all addressed the crowd, encouraging them to continue to keep up their efforts through election day and to not rest on the confidence of polls that show the ticket up by wide margins.
Later tonight, Sen. Creigh Deeds the Democratic nominee will host a similar rally with Attorney General nominee, Steve Shannon at the Democratic Coordinated Campaign office in Richmond.
The crowd was excited to greet McDonnell as his “New Jobs, New Opportunities” RV rolled into the parking lot and remained enthusiastic throughout all the speeches given by the candidates. McDonnell’s speech didn’t reveal much new information, instead just sticking to his traditional campaign talking points, as well as dishing up some key red state rhetoric, for the clearly Republican crowd.
Here is an example of what McDonnell talked about to get the crowd fired up:
Note the excitement McDonnell created when he hammered the federal government and proposed the idea of drilling offshore for oil.
McDonnell will stump in a number of different corners of the state tomorrow and won’t return to the Richmond area until Monday, where his team is promising the biggest rally of the campaign that is expected to be held at an airport hanger at Richmond International Airport.
It is a classic line from a politician, and like clockwork, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling found the perfect opportunity to deliver it, as reports emerge that of the three statewide races in Virgina, his might be the most competitive.
During an event today in Richmond with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and his Republican ticketmates, Bolling told our Tara Morgan that the only poll he is concerned about is the “final poll” that will take place on Election Day.
With more and more evidence that the chances that Creigh Deeds will pull off an amazing 11th hour comeback are unlikely, frisky Democrats are looking at their down ballot races hoping that Jody Wagner or Steve Shannon might be able to benefit from Virginia’s history of splitting tickets in statewide races. Their hunger has left them pointing to a little read private poll from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) that shows the race for Lt. Governor between Wagner and Bolling within a couple of points of each other.
Despite that fact that virtually every public poll has shown Bolling with as close to a comfortable lead as McDonnell has at the top of the ticket, many on the left are holding on to hope that voters have not taken the time to closely look at the LG’s race and that perhaps, in an effort to balance the ticket they will choose Wagner. Democrats took heart in a recent transfer of $25,000 from the McDonnell to the Bolling campaign as evidence that Republicans were getting nervous. (McDonnell has since transferred another $10,000 and Bolling has also received more than $130,000 from the RPV and another $54,000 from the Republican Leadership Committee) Bolling told us today that, he is working hard up until the last day, but hasn’t seen this mysterious poll and he wouldn’t put much stock in it anyway.
Here are his remarks:
As for the Democrats, Wagner stated to me emphatically last week that she is not distancing herself from the Deeds campaign, despite the fact that she reached out to a liberal blogger, looking to clarify where she stands on the public option portion of the proposed health care reform plan. (A stance that even now still seems a bit murky) She continues to be advertising heavily on television and spoke at the rally on Tuesday featuring President Obama.
The Wilder School of Government at Virginia Commonwealth University just released a poll that gives Republican Bob McDonnell an 18 point lead in the race for Governor, with less than a week to go.
Here is the breakdown:
The numbers include so called “leaners”, who have yet to say they are definitely voting for a candidate, but are leaning in on direction.
One nugget from the poll that I found interesting: “Nearly seven in 10 (68 percent) likely voters see McDonnell as conservative or very conservative, while 16 percent call him moderate.” Yet, despite McDonnell’s clear conservative leanings, independent voters, according to this poll, are breaking for the Republican 56-29. It is perhaps even more evidence that the Deeds camp attack of McDonnell’s controversial masters thesis, never stuck.
The full release from the poll can be found after the jump..
They may not have the swagger or will bring the kind of crowds that the President of the United States can, but today Republican Gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell should get a pretty good injection of free media from GOP heavyweights Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. The former Mayor of New York City and the former Governor of Massachusetts are both former and potential candidates for President and they have the potential to excite die-hard Republicans as we head down the homestretch.
It appears that in the waning days of the campaign, national Republicans are doing whatever they can to be a part of McDonnell’s success. Both Giuliani and Romney have stumped for McDonnell in the past and both have multiple events planned today. Giuliani, won’t even be with the candidate himself. McDonnell has appeared with at least 5 different prospective GOP presidential nominees over the course of the campaign. Yesterday he got another boost from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee who raised $75,000 at a breakfast in Newport News. (Huckabee was in town to deliver the keynote address for a Virginia conservative political action group)
The closest Giuliani will be to Richmond is Fredericksburg, Romney will make a stop with McDonnell here in the Capital City. Their full schedules can be found after the jump.
Here is my report from NBC12 News at 11 on President Barack Obama‘s visit to Norfolk on behalf of Creigh Deeds.
It is perhaps the last chance for Creigh Deeds to turn around his campaign for Governor. This afternoon, the President of the United States will headline a rally for the Democratic nominee at Old Dominion University in Norfolk. Despite Barack Obama‘s visible support at a rally that is certain to get heavy media attention, Deeds is still running uphill against polls that show the race slipping away and indications that the White House isn’t interested in tying itself too closely to his campaign.
Yesterday, the Washington Post released a poll that showed the Republican Bob McDonnell with an 11 point lead. A poll released by Survey USA this morning, shows McDonnell up 17 points and finally Public Policy Polling‘s numbers have the GOP nominee up 15. The latest Real Clear Politics average has McDonnell up by double-digit margins and it doesn’t include the two polls released this morning.
In addition to McDonnell’s commanding lead, all three polls show healthy leads for the down-ballot Republicans as well.
But it is not just ugly poll numbers that the Deeds campaign woke up to this morning that threatens to put a damper on what should be a key moment in the campaign. In addition to a heavily read story last week by the Washington Post that featured anonymous White House staffers distancing the President from Deed’s troubles, today many Democrats are pushing the internal data from the Washington Post poll that indicates that Virginia voters don’t blame Barack Obama if Creigh Deeds isn’t successful.
It is not the kind of story, you’d expect Democrats to be touting if they thought today’s rally with the President was the key to the Deeds comeback with only one week to go.
The Deeds/Obama rally is set to start around 5pm this evening. We will have complete coverage on NBC12 during our early evening newscasts and a wrap of the event tonight at 11pm.
The two men vying to be Virginia’s next Attorney General will meet in an afternoon debate today (Thursday) in Richmond. Sen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Del. Steve Shannon (D) have met in several debates, most of which have received limited media coverage.
The debate starts at 1:15 and takes place at the Omni in the James River Ballroom. The forum is being hosted by the Richmond Bar Association as part of their Bench Bar Conference. The event is a cooperative effort from a number of bar associations in Central Virginia.
The Shannon campaign is going to stream the debate live on the internet if you can’t make it to the Omni. From what I can tell, the webcast is being produced by the Shannon Team. You can check it out by clicking here.
Much like his two Republican ticketmates, Sen. Cuccinelli leads in every single public poll that has been released in the last three weeks. However, conventional wisdom dictates that many Virginians don’t pay very close attention to the down ballot races until closer to election day. With only 12 days to go, this debate could be the first time many voters take the opportunity to get a look at both candidates.
From almost the moment the words came out of Sen. Creigh Deeds‘ mouth last night during the final gubernatorial debate, a cry went out across cyberspace from Democrats angry that their candidate would even consider opting out of the public option, if it were to pass in Washington.
The public option is a very controversial aspect of the Obama administration’s efforts to reform health care, but for some hard core Democrats, who have been waiting for the opportunity to enact what they view as real health care reform, it is an “all or nothing” proposition. Last night, Deeds clearly indicated that he was not among those who view the public option as the only avenue to real health care reform and left open the possibility that if the plan passes and raises costs for Virginians he would consider finding a way for the state to “opt out”.
I spoke today to Jody Wagner, the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor and the wife of a physician. Wagner told me that she did not see Sen. Deeds’ comments and did not have the chance to talk to him about the issue, but she is sure that her views are not far from her ticket-mate. “If the public option passes and the President signs it, I think that we should take part,” said Wagner, but then she added, “as long as it doesn’t result in higher taxes for Virginians and is revenue neutral.”
Wagner said that it is difficult to agree to a “public option only” platform, because there is no clear definition as to what exactly what the public option is. She said though that she couldn’t imagine a scenario where the Barack Obama led Federal Government would pass a health care reform package that included a public option, that wasn’t good for Virginia. However, she left open the possibility that if for some reason they did, Virginia could back out.
“Asking me to say, I categorically under all circumstances, would support it is tough because It depends on whether it is going to cost Virginia taxpayers more, whether it is going to be affordable for the state, whether it accomplishes the goals of increasing access,” said Wagner. “It is sort of theoretical.” Her comments to me, seem a bit different from what she told liberal blogger Ben Tribbett, according to a post on his popular NotLarrySabato blog, where Tribbett claims that she committed “unequivocally that she would fight any attempt to “opt out” of a federal health insurance option.”
Despite the parsing of her exact stance on the public option, Wagner pointed out that where she and Sen. Deeds stand is a far cry from where her opponent Bill Bolling and his ticket-mate Bob McDonnell stand. Wagner accused the incumbent Bolling of being a pawn of the insurance industry, not interested in doing anything to help drive down the cost of health care. (Bolling works in the insurance industry, but is not a licensed to sell health insurance. The position of Lt. Governor is only a part time job.)
“Bill Bolling is a health insurance executive and he comes at this entirely differently than I do, he comes at it from the perspective of protecting insurance companies,” Wagner said. “He spent his legislative career doing that. If you look at his Senate votes he voted against the patient’s bill of rights which meant voting in favor of requiring coverage of pre-existing conditions, against requiring access to a specialist against allowing someone who is very ill having a specialist as their primary care physician and against being able to sue an insurance company for negligence if you know, they cause harm to a patient.”
The Bolling campaign responded to the Wagner charges in this prepared statement from Campaign Manager Matt Wells:
“Lieutenant Governor Bolling disagrees strongly with Ms. Wagner on the so called Public Option. He does not support turning our health care delivery system over to the federal government because he knows this will lead to higher taxes and take health care decisions out of the hands of patients and turn them over to federal bureaucrats. It is unfortunate that Ms. Wagner has chosen to turn her back on the people of Virginia on this very important issue to stand with Nancy Pelosi and other high-tax, big-spending Washington liberals, but that doesn’t surprise us a bit.
As far as Ms. Wagner’s other comments are concerned, they are just more of the same kind of lies that Ms. Wagner has been telling about Lieutenant Governor Bolling throughout this entire campaign. Lieutenant Governor Bolling is not a health insurance executive and he is not employed by a health insurance company. The Lieutenant Governor is not even licensed to sell health insurance. He is an independent insurance agent who sells property and casualty insurance, not health insurance. He represents his clients and protects their interests, not insurance companies. Ms. Wagner just can’t seem to get any of the facts in this campaign right.”
Audio clips from conversation with Jody Wagner can be found below:
Any thought that the President of the United States was working to avoid getting involved in the race in Virginia can now officially be erased. Despite Creigh Deeds trailing in every single public poll, Barack Obama has decided to go “all in” in a last ditch effort to get the Democrat elected Virginia’s next Governor.
In addition to scheduling his second visit to Virginia on behalf of the Deeds’ campaign, Mr. Obama is featured in a new television ad, where he encourages the voters in the Old Dominion who helped him become the first Democrat in 44 years win a presidential election in Virginia to come out and support Deeds.
While the President did not shoot any new material to create the ad, it does feature video from Obama’s previous visit to the Commonwealth in support of Mr. Deeds. At one point he asks the crowd “to get fired up once again so that we can go towards the future, with Creigh Deeds leading the great Commonwealth of Virginia.”
The ad can be seen below:
It is not only significant that the White House has deemed the Deeds’ campaign a worthwhile investment, but the new ad demonstrates a marked shift in the Deeds’ campaign strategy. While Mr. Deeds has never separated himself from the President, he has not gone out of his way to embrace him. He of course, refused to call himself an “Obama Democrat” during the second Gubernatorial debate. It was something I asked him about during our exclusive interview last week.
This very public connection between Deeds and Obama, could show the campaign’s effort to fire up a base that polls show to be less than enthusiastic about the Democrats’ campaign.
The Deeds’ campaign has confirmed that President Obama will travel to Old Dominion University for a rally next Tuesday. The latest details are after the jump.