October 18th, 2008
06:42 PM ET
10 years ago

McCain aide defines 'real Virginia'


McCain campaigned in northern Virginia Saturday. (AP PHOTO)

(CNN) - Hours before John McCain took the stage in the northern Virginia suburb of Woodbridge – his second visit to the battleground state in less than a week – campaign surrogate Nancy Pfotenhauer told an interviewer that voters in that part of the state did not represent the ‘real’ Virginia.

“I certainly agree that northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. And as a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia. And that’s really what you see there. But the rest of the state, ‘real’ Virginia if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message.”

Asked if she wanted to clarify her comments, Pfotenhauer stood by her remarks. “I did say outside of Northern…I did say ‘real’ Virginia, because northern Virginia is where I’ve always been, but real Virginia I take to be this part of the state that is more Southern in nature, if you will. Northern Virginia is really metro DC, as you’re aware, Kevin.”

Shortly after, and a quick drive away from his campaign headquarters, McCain tried to rally the faithful in an area that may already be out of reach.

“I’ve got to give you some straight talk. Let me give you the state of the race today,” McCain told the crowd. “We have 17 days to go. We're 6 points down. The national media has written us off…. But my friends in all this planning they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them.”

The line has become a familiar one – and drew a now-familiar reaction from the strongly-Republican crowd, which began booing and chanting “Liberal media!” One woman threw a pack of gum at CNN Correspondent Ed Henry.

Right outside the entrance to the outdoor venue, a sign urging voters to "stop Barack Obama" featured the Soviet hammer and sickle, and the Muslim crescent.

Virginia’s 13 electoral votes have not gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 White House re-election run. But the Democratic ticket has visited the state more than a dozen times since the beginning of this summer – more than twice as often as its GOP counterpart. Prince William County, site of Saturday’s rally, is one of the fastest-growing in the state.

And Barack Obama leads John McCain by 10 points in Virginia, 53 to 43 percent, in the CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll released last week.

For months, “NoVa” was the only region of a battleground state to get a special nod on the McCain campaign’s list of ad buys. But that distinction has disappeared, and the campaign’s presence on the airwaves here – which falls in the expensive Washington, D.C. media market – has dramatically diminished.

Republicans never thought McCain would take the area – but did hope to cut into Obama’s winning margins in the D.C. suburbs. The campaign may not view the area’s residents as real Virginians, but their very real votes carried Democratic Senator Jim Webb to victory over Republican George Allen in 2006. Democrat Tim Kaine is governor, and former Governor Mark Warner is highly-favored to add to the party’s Senate majority, taking the seat that currently belongs to retiring Republican Senator John Warner.

The party is stepping up its focus on this former Republican stronghold. Stepping in where the McCain campaign has pulled back, the RNC’s independent expenditure unit is boosting spending in the state. McCain himself has visited the state twice in less than a week, including an event with running mate Sarah Palin. On Sunday, her husband Todd Palin will take a bus tour of more favorable downstate areas.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. 37-year-old First Time Voter

    I guess "real" Virginia is where a lot of white racist people live? Just like Palin's "pro American" comment, she's referring to those extreme racist white folks sho refuse to vote for Obama? Yeah, I get it.

    October 18, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  2. ednadavid

    What is up with the Republicans' comparing "real" Americans with what "false Americans"? or "patriotic" vs. unpatriotic"? I mean when will they end with this divisive talk – and now its what socialist vs. democratic – they have become more disgusting and divisive by the day – and more destructive than words can describe.

    October 18, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  3. jim

    It must be embarrasing being a Republican these days.

    October 18, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  4. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Too Little, and Waaaaayyyyy Too Late.

    The McCain/Palin campaign just keeps drawing divisive lines in our states and in this country. WHY? McCain has become one of the most dishonorable people I've ever known.

    The same people that brought you Bush/Cheney for the past 8 years are now presenting McCain/Palin.

    Gonna fall for it again? Not me. Not this time. Not ever again.

    Obama/Biden '08

    October 18, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. Joan

    Clearly what she meant by her comments about people form "Metro D.C." moving into Northern Virginia is that too many African Americans have relocated from D.C. into the Northern Virginia suburbs. I was born in and lived in D.C. for most of my life and many of my relatives have relocated in this way over the past 20 years and yes, the demographics have changed in Northern Virgina. I still am shocked, however, with the blatant arrogance and racism of her comment – stated with such ease and not retracted. I was watching MSNBC when she made this comment and the anchor, who was African American, "got it" right away, and that is why he was trying to give her a way out. This is just another example, usually brought up by Palin, of the McCain campaign's outright attempt to divide the country.

    October 18, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. seriously?!

    I am crossing off every place that the MkKane Kampaign calls pro-america or 'real' on my maps because they must be god for saken crap holes full of racists and ignorant fools who believe his garbage.

    October 18, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  7. rok

    Terrible. McCain's camp keep dividing this country. McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer refered certain part of Virginia as "Real Virginia" and the other as "Not Real". Today, Sarah Palin called some States in this country as"Pro-Americans" and indirectly saying that certain states in this country are "Anti-Americans"

    McCain's camp have not rejected these comments yet.

    We all need a leader who knows how to unite the people of this country together.

    Vote Early. Vote Obama/Biden '08

    October 18, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |

    And the McCain Campaign will not admit it incites hostility and civil discord??? "...booing and chanting “Liberal media!” One woman threw a pack of gum at CNN Correspondent Ed Henry"

    Nice McCain, something to be proud of.....MAVERICK!


    October 18, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  9. rok

    Northern Virginia, wake up. This woman just said that Northern Virginia "Not "Real" Virginia". I hope you all we not vote for McCain on that day. Terrible, Terrible!!!!!!!! It shows that McCain camp have preference to some states in America. Is that a quality of a leader?

    Vote Early.

    Vote Obama/Biden '08

    October 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. Zion

    The real Virginia...here we go again.

    October 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. MIKE J.

    When I here people say that Palin is a breath of fresh air, I have to wonder about those people.

    It's amazing that people who support her for VP do not care that she is unqualified, uneducated and lacking the attributes require to be a heartbeat away from being PRESIDENT!!

    SHE HAS LIED ABOUT EVERYTHING since she arrived on the scene. LIED about earmarks, tax cuts, troopergate, etc.....

    These people must be very, very DUMB!!!

    October 18, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. Dane

    They try to divide the country but now they go to their "fedaralist" (which means more government btw) ways and try to divide people by state. This campaign is just pathetic

    I'm from Richmond and live in NOVA now, I wonder what that makes me. A lot of people in NOVA are born here or come from southern counties looking for better opportunities. In VA, NOVA is the spot with the most opportunity.

    October 18, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  13. obamacrat

    I love how the McCain campaign has taken it upon themselves to tell us who are real americans, real virginians, real patriots, the good guys, and so forth.

    October 18, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. Papasan in Arizona

    Arizonans know how Real Virginia feels, the real Arizona has yet to see McCain/Palin side show, becuase we are working families that won't Vote for those to ridiculous clowns! We don't earn multi millions of dollars a year like John McCain, the reason McCain doesn't like a Obama tax plan is McCain will have to pay more taxes.
    BTW: The last resort of the Failing McCain Campaign is to energize the base, Ignorant Right Wing Looneys! McCain followers are waking up from a long peaceful McBush slumber [voted 90 percent of the time with Bush], to find two pathetic morons, publicly displaying a comical cartoonish love affair with themselves, totally out of touch with our Nations true issues [it's the ECONOMY!], and engaging in a revolting "McCain First" campaign! That's a tough wake up call, "MY FRIENDS"!
    McCain's first Executive decision is to unleash a Fascist Psychotic With The Racist Twinkle In Her Eye [Awaiting Alaska Criminal Indictment For Abusing Power] scampering around our Nation dangerously drumming up Hatred & Bigotry [Wink Wink]. The obvious erratic incompetence of the McCain/Palin campaign provides us evidence enough that they are unfit for any public office. As Americans face the hardest financial disaster in the History of the USA, this is the McCain Policy??? John McCain / Sarah Palin have no idea what Americans trying to survive face. 401K plans gutted, Unemployment, Foreclosures, Wall Street in the Tank, Main Street hopelessly waiting for a bail out, and the Global Economy in disarray...
    McCain/Palin are a disgusting self serving disgrace undoubtedly proving they are not up to the complex task of keeping the Nation together in hard times.

    P.S. Acorn / Ayers / Rev. Wright / Socialism / Raise Taxes for 250K A Year Income, these are not the real issues facing America!

    October 18, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
  15. sabuc for Obama

    "real Virginia"? "Pro-American areas"? Looks like the seeds of division are sprouting. Shame on you Mr. McCain. If this campaign is preview of your Presidency, you need not be running for the job.

    October 18, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  16. McCainGate

    Yeah, only the "real" Virginians and "real" Americans will vote McCain. I guess it's too late to fire your whole advisory team?

    October 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. Polly

    It's too easy for folks in Virginia, and frankly all the states turning blue to turn Democratic, but remember Americans, perhaps one good thing that a Democrat ever said was "It's not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." LISTEN to John McCain. Country First. It seems many democrats want the country to take care of them. This country was not built by such people. This country cannot afford to develop such an attitude. If you want to throw your freedom away, vote democrat. If you want to fight to keep what you've been blessed with and so many people have died for, then Work and Vote for Senator McCain. Contribute yourself to this country. Contribute to freedom. Do the right thing.

    October 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  18. a well educated woman

    Nice one.. First Palin says she only visit Pro-American places, then this one from McCains people. I am from California. Never Saw McCain, and Palin only came out here to collect money on a fund raiser, met by plenty of protesters. I have to say she offends me big time. California is full of the people she just slammed. Good luck to the both of you. Go Virginia, pick the one that represents you as all true Americans!

    October 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher

    I guess Real Virginia is like Real Americans..... they think that they support the Republican Party.... otherwise they are NOT REAL? I think they just might be surprised at how REAL we ARE! We are REALLY sick of all the lies and attacks that have no substance behind them... and we are EVEN sicker of the MESS the Republicans have gotten US into in order to Make Themselves and their Cronies RICHER!

    I would like to see the wealth spread around a whole not more. I think we are ALL sick of the policies that have made the richest 5% of this country even RICHER, while the rest of us struggle to keep our heads above water!

    October 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  20. Ron

    Real Virginia area. And Pro America areas. All the McCain campaign knows how to do is to Divide our Nation.

    October 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  21. Amy

    Real Virginia as opposed to Communist Virginia as McCain's brother hinted earlier this campaign season? Keep sticking your feet in your mouth McCain campaign surrogates! Barack and Joe have a plan that resonates with all Virginians and that's why the McCain campaign is scared and trying to divide that great state.

    October 18, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  22. Arizonan for Obama/Biden

    “I certainly agree that northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. And as a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia. And that’s really what you see there. But the rest of the state, ‘real’ Virginia if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message.”

    So your saying Ms. Pfotenhauer is because it's Northern Virginia and is more Democratic then it's just fake or anti-Virginia. Your rhetoric is disgusting and devisive.

    October 18, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  23. Neal

    McCain's slogan politics is tired.
    Whenever he gets specific he lies.
    America cannot afford another President like that.

    October 18, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  24. Lisa

    Well maybe he would be further ahead now if he wasn't taking the weekends off early in the campaign. Go back to resting John. go back to resting... I take that back you will get a looonnggg rest after Nov 4th.

    October 18, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  25. Florida Voter

    The McFake campaign really thinks that there are two different Americas. This is the main reason that we need a President that believes that he can govern for the improvement of one nation under God. Just One.

    October 18, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
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