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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama

Shaka Smart to host Obama VCU rally

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Virginia Commonwealth University’s head basketball coach, Shaka Smart will host President Barack Obama kickoff rally at the Siegel Center on Saturday. Smart is one of the most well-known figures in Central Virginia and arguably may be the most popular man Richmond.

Smart has become a beloved Richmond figure, first for guiding the improbable run of the VCU Rams to the Final Four in 2011 and then by twice spurning offers from much bigger programs to remain the head coach at VCU.

The president’s love for college basketball is well-known. He often will attend college basketball games, has a brother-in-law who is a head coach and each year reveals his picks for the NCAA tournament on ESPN.

Smart, appears to be apolitical. He has no record of donating to any candidate on the Federal Election Commission web site and has not been outspoken in support of any candidate in the past. Turning down an invitation from the president is difficult to do, but make no mistake, Smart will be front and center at a bona fide political event. His presence would imply support for the president’s re-election bid.

Update: In April of 2011 Smart told the Richmond Times-Dispatch about his support of Obama in 2008. His wife Maya volunteered for the Obama campaign when they lived in Florida. Smart was asked because had VCU won the national championship, he’d get the chance to meet the president:

Smart was an assistant coach at Florida during the 2008 elections, and it’s probably no surprise whom he voted for given his background — a biracial kid who grew up in the Chicago area.

His wife, Maya, spent the year campaigning for Obama in Florida.

“I remember she had all the staffers and volunteers over to our house, and they’d be calling and preparing, and Maya kept saying that, ‘We’re going to win Florida,'” Smart said. “If you ask her today, she’s still the reason why.”

Shaka has never met the president, and was talking with his assistants the other day, reflecting that one of the best parts of winning would be the chance to meet him.

“That would be, obviously, a phenomenal thing,” Smart said.

See the full story on TimesDispatch.com

Smart also attended the White House Correspondents’ dinner, but did not get the chance to meet the president at that time. He will get that chance on Saturday.

In addition to Smart, the crowd will also hear from U.S. Senate Candidate and former Gov. Tim Kaine, Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones and Newport News Rep. Bobby Scott.


Smart’s former player and Obama supporter Bradford Burgess talks about the rally and his coaches’ important role in the event.

Full release from VCU:


RICHMOND, Va. – Head Coach Shaka Smart has entered the Verizon Wireless Arena at the Stuart C. Siegel Center many times to sold out crowds.

Saturday, he will be entering to another capacity crowd, however, this time it won’t be to coach a basketball game. Smart, who will be entering his fourth season, will serve as the host for a rally at the Siegel Center for President Barack Obama.

Obama will be on his first re-election campaign trip with the Siegel Center being his second stop after an appearance at Ohio State earlier on Saturday. Smart will welcome not only President Obama, but also the first lady, Michelle Obama, to the Siegel Center.

This will be the second time in the past two years that Smart and President Obama’s paths have crossed as the Rams head coach was guest at last year’s White House Correspondent’s dinner in Arlington.

Saturday’s rally at the Siegel Center is set to begin at 2 p.m.


Here is the release from the Obama campaign:

PRESS RELEASE: Shaka Smart, Bobby Scott among Speakers at President Obama’s Campaign Rally

Richmond, Va.—Today, the Obama campaign announced part of the pre-program at President Obama’s rally this Saturday at the Siegel Center in Richmond, including VCU basketball coach Shaka Smart, who will be hosting the event.

The pre-program participants, which will be released in full tomorrow, represent a mix of grassroots supporters and political leaders, and come from all corners of the commonwealth.

“President Obama has been fighting tirelessly to rebuild our economy and create an America where everyone who works hard and plays by the rules has a fair shot at success,” said Mayor Dwight Jones. “Virginians know the president has been getting the job done, from creating new jobs to keeping our nation safe, and I am looking forward to seeing thousands of his supporters gather here in Richmond this weekend showing their support.”

Pre-Program Participants Include:
• VCU Coach Shaka Smart
• Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones
• U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott
• Former Governor Tim Kaine

At Saturday’s rally, one of the first two public rallies of the campaign, the president will outline the choice Virginians will face in November: Are we going to move forward or go backward? Are we going to continue to turn the corner or turn back the clock and turn our backs on the middle class like the Republicans want to do.

The rally is open to the public and tickets are not required for admission. Supporters are strongly encouraged to RSVP at www.ofa.bo/rallyva and should plan to arrive early, as space is limited. Doors are currently scheduled to open at 1:45pm, although that time is subject to change.

Written by Ryan Nobles

May 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

Romney plans big Virginia swing around Obama launch event

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By: Ryan Nobles – bio | email

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will appear at four different events in Virginia over the next two weeks. The Romney swing represents the first significant amount of time the republican has spent in the Commonwealth since taking control of the GOP nomination for president.  It also comes around the same time as President Barack Obama plans a major event at VCU in Richmond to formally launch his 2012 campaign.

Romney will appear by himself at an event in Chantilly Wednesday morning and then a fundraiser with Governor Bob McDonnell that evening in Northern Virginia. McDonnell will then join Romney at an event at a business in Portsmouth Thursday afternoon. Finally Romney will return to Virginia next Saturday May 12th to serve as the commencement speaker at Liberty University in Lynchburg.  First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement address at Virginia Tech the day before Romney’s Liberty event on Friday May 11th.

The dual focus on Virginia comes as a new poll released by the left leaning Public Policy Polling shows Obama holding a 7 point lead in the Old Dominion. This poll follows two surveys from other services that show Romney leading by a smaller margin. The Real Clear Politics polling average gives the president a 2.5 point lead.

The visit will also increase the speculation about Governor McDonnell as a possible running mate to Romney. McDonnell has emerged as a top surrogate for the new presumptive nominee and this will be our first opportunity to see the two in what could be a ticket leading into the fall.

We will have complete coverage of th Romney Virginia swing this week on Decision Virginia and NBC12.

Obama campaign clarifies RSVP policy for Richmond visit

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It is not a surprise that the announcement that President Barack Obama planned to kickoff his campaign in Richmond generated a tremendous amount of interest. It is also not a surprise that when the event was described as “free and open to the public” that the first question people asked is “how do I get tickets?”

The first place we sent people was this website. It was also a place the campaign sent people looking to learn more information about the event.

The site gives you an opportunity to fill out a form to get more information and “RSVP” for the event. What it doesn’t promise is tickets or guaranteed access. That caused confusion from many people who called our newsroom or contacted us for more information. 

I asked the Obama national press secretary Ben LaBolt how people will get into the event and he told me, what many people thought the campaign was suggesting when they first pushed the web site.

“Well certainly he wants to see as many Virginians as possible and I think it will be open to the public as many people as we can seat,” said LaBolt. “If you just go to BarackObama.com that is the place to get tickets and we will accommodate as many people as we can.”

To LaBolt’s credit, he is based in Chicago and not deep in the weeds of planning an event in Richmond. His colleagues on the ground here, worked to clarify what exactly it means to RSVP on the site. The campaign made it clear that the RSVP does not guarantee that you will get in to see the President on May 5th.

The campaign is in the early stages of a monster undertaking. It is planning that requires the okay of the Secret Service. It is not until they get a read on how many people will be allowed in, that they will unveil exactly what it will take to gain access to the Seigel Center next Saturday. The RSVP, the campaign says, is to simply get a gauge how much interest there will be in the president’s visit and to have system to quickly alert those interest in attending, if his schedule is forced to be altered.

The campaign did not reveal how many people have RSVPed for the event, but from this blog along more than 1,000 people have clicked on the RVSP link. The link was posted in many different places. The max capacity of the Seigel Center is just north of 7 thousand.

The campaign promised that there will be special access for volunteers that reach certain goals. They said they will release a specific admission policy sometime next week.

The other question is what becomes of the e-mail address and phone number you provided the campaign when you RSVPed. The campaign said the goal is not to farm contact information for future solicitation, but they will have access to that information to that if they wish. The first email you get after sign up tells you, that future emails with information about the upcoming event are forthcoming. 

I have more information about the ticket confusion on NBC12.com. We will update you when the campaign reveals more information about the event.

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 27, 2012 at 10:54 pm

McDonnell chides Obama on campaign “kickoff”

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Governor Bob McDonnell is a prominent Mitt Romney supporter so it is not a surprise that he doesn’t share the same enthusiasm about Barack Obama‘s upcoming visit to Virginia as the wide-eyed Obama volunteers who we featured Wednesday night.

But that doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate the significance of the Obama campaign picking Richmond as one of two locations to kickoff off the president’s re-election bid.

“We are going to see plenty of the candidates, that’s good,” McDonnell said. “Most people ignore Virginia because they think it is going one way or the other. But this is going to be a real competitive race.”

But McDonnell stops short of buying into the notion that Saturday May, 5th is really the start of the Obama campaign.

“Well he’s been campaigning for the last two years so it’s really not the kickoff to the campaign,” he said.

The republicans seem intent to remind everyone that the president has been spending a lot of time in swing states. Events that may not have been campaign events, but ones that played to audiences that will play a key role in his re-election. House Speaker John Boehner was among those who said the White House was campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime. The Speaker even called on the Obama campaign to reimburse the federal government for the president’s recent trip to college campuses to drum up support for an extension on lower student loan rates.

The Obama campaign deflected the criticism and argued that the president’s travel is not out of the ordinary for a Commander-in-Chief. Even one seeking reelection.

McDonnell said regardless of how many times Obama comes to Virginia it can’t change what he views as policies that have not worked.

“No matter what the president may say that doesn’t change the fact that we are $16 trillion dollars in debt and unemployment is at 8.3%.”

Expect McDonnell to be front and center as a chief surrogate for the Romney campaign, there to rebut the president’s speech and offer the alternative perspective.

See an extended clip from Governor McDonnell’s remarks below:



Written by Ryan Nobles

April 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Obama to launch 2012 campaign in Richmond

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In case you needed even more proof, (and you shouldn’t) it became very clear the Obama 2012 campaign is making Virginia a high priority in their re-election bid.

The president, who has yet to make an official public campaign stop, will hop on the campaign trail for the first time in Columbus, Ohio and at the Seigel Center at VCU in Richmond.

President Obama coming to Richmond is no longer earth shattering news. He has made five official White House visit to the Central Virginia region since becoming presidents. This visit is different, because he will be a candidate and the points he generally talks around during his policy trips, he will be able to drive home and leave no doubt.

The president, who became the first democrat to win Virginia since LBJ, wants to make sure he wins again in 2012.

Here is my story for NBC12 on the announcement:

RICHMOND (WWBT)- President Barack Obama is no stranger to Central Virginia, but his next visit to Richmond will be much different. That is because the 2012 campaign is officially underway.

Saturday May 5th, the president will make his first two campaign stops in Columbus, Ohio and here in Richmond, Virginia, on the campus of VCU. Republicans have been very critical that the president has used the White House travel budget to visit swing states like Virginia to push his agenda, in fact today the RNC filed a formal complaint to that effect.

But, this trip will be paid for by his campaign, and he won’t mince words.

He wants your vote.

It was Barack Obama’s loyal volunteers, at his downtown Richmond headquarters who were the first to get the news.

“President Obama will be holding his very first campaign rallies in Columbus, Ohio and the Seigel Center in Richmond,’ said Obama For America Virginia Field Director Lise Clavel to cheers.

Of the many places the president could’ve picked for his first campaign rally, he chose two with enormous significance in November, Ohio and Virginia.

“It’s recognition that Virginia is a really important state in this election and that it is all up for grabs,” said Sai Iyer a VCU student who has the unique distinction of being the only student national co-chair for the Obama Campaign. He is excited the president is coming to the place where he will graduate from in just two weeks.

“I think it’s recognition that Richmond came out in a big way in 2008 and it is going to come out in a big way in 2012,” he said.

But republicans were quick to criticize the announcement and downplay its importance.

Governor Bob McDonnell, a Mitt Romney supporter and a potential vice presidential pick said that all the president is doing his bringing his “failed policies and broken promises to Virginia.”

read and see the rest of the story on NBC12.com…


The event will take place Saturday May 5th. The specific time of the event has not been released, but the doors to the Seigel Center will open at 1:45pm.

Official ticket distribution has not been revealed yet, but those eager to claim a spot can RSVP on the Obama Campaign web site. Keep in mind that reservation does require you to submit an e-mail address, which can than be used to solicit future campaign information.

The full response from Governor Bob McDonnell to the Obama visit can be found after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Warner helps Kaine unveil economic plan

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Former Governor Tim Kaine has been a candidate for the U.S. Senate for exactly one year.  It was a job that he took on a bit reluctantly, but has since attacked with vigour.

In a race that is expected to be a titanic struggle between two of Virginia’s most prominent politicians, Kaine appears willing to do whatever it takes to give himself the advantage. One of those advantages is his old running mate, Senator Mark Warner. Warner consistently polls as one of Virginia’s most popular elected officials and seems ready and willing to help keep both U.S. Senate seats in the hands of democrats.

But while, Warner helps Kaine draw crowds, and potentially TV cameras that might not be their otherwise, it was the candidate that had to sell the message. Kaine focused his remarks at various stops in Virginia on his plan for the economy. A broad plan, based on three basic tenants of job growth, strengthening the talent pool and building a balanced budget while bringing civil discourse to Washington.

Kaine’s most prominent Republican opponent George Allen wondered what took the former governor so long to release his plan.

“It took a year, but Chairman Tim Kaine has finally put on paper what Virginia families already knew,” said Allen campaign manager Mike Thomas.  “He (Kaine) wants to raise taxes on families and small businesses.”

The Allen campaign once again hammered home Kaine’s connection to President Barack Obama and specifically his support of the stimulus plan and health care reform.

For his part, Kaine countered that attacks like those are exactly what Washington, D.C. needs less of.

“It’s all about balance, civility and working together,” he said during an interview at an event at Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond. “You know restoring the traditions of let’s find ways to work together.”

It was a sentiment that Warner echoed. Warner who has tried, with little success, to find bi-partisan partners in Washington said Kaine has the type of personality that will bring people together.

“People are pretty frustrated with congress at this point,” said Warner.  “They want us to get stuff done. Tim Kaine will get up there and get stuff done.”

An extended clip from Kaine and Warner at Maggie Walker Governor’s School can be found below:

Allen’s campaign released his economic plan “A Blueprint for America’s Future” last year.

More on Kaine’s plan can be found after the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 4, 2012 at 10:50 pm

O’Malley on 2012, Romney, Obama and McDonnell

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In a rare opportunity, NBC12 was granted a one on one interview with Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. We talked to O’Malley Tuesday night from Baltimore as the polls were closing in his state’s GOP primary.  O’Malley is a rising democratic star and shares much in common with Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

We talked about his relationship with McDonnell, the GOP primary and President Barack Obama‘s prospects for November.

The full interview can be seen below:

Tuesday night on NBC12 we took an in-depth look into the relationship of O’Malley and McDonnell:

BALTIMORE, MD (WWBT)- The State of Maryland is solidly blue and its votes probably won’t have that big of an impact on the general election, but it’s governor just might. Martin O’Malley is a rising democratic star, who may one day be a candidate for president himself.  He shares quite a bit in common with our Governor Bob McDonnell.

“On a personal level, Governor McDonnell and I get a long fairly well,” said O’Malley.

And why shouldn’t they? They are both military veterans, Irish Catholics, with big families and important jobs. They both also serve as the chairs of the republican and democratic governor’s associations. But despite all they have in common, when it comes to practical politics O’Malley and McDonnell couldn’t be more different.

“I believe the way me move America forward is by not treating like an old car that you stop repairing when it gets old,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley believes that republicans like McDonnell, are advocating policies that keep the country locked in neutral. He was particularly critical of Virginia’s past general assembly session. A session he believes will resonate into the presidential election.

“We have very different views when it comes to workers rights, when it comes to women’s rights and when it comes to voters rights,” said the Maryland Governor.

read and see the full story on NBC12.com

Governor McDonnell’s spokesman Tucker Martin issued this statement in response to our interview with Governor O’Malley.

“Governor O’Malley is a really nice guy who just happens to really love raising taxes. Right now he’s trying to increase taxes in Maryland on everything from gas to income to cigars, and he’s already pushed through numerous other tax hikes. Governor McDonnell likes and respects Governor O’Malley, but he strongly disagrees with his persistent desire to always take more money from hard-working taxpayers.”
– Tucker Martin, Director of Communications

Written by Ryan Nobles

April 3, 2012 at 11:52 pm