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. Russell in Tenafly

    John McCain has permanently tarnished his name. He will be remembered as a dirty politician. It is obvious that he will not be President. He will return to the Senate as a disgrace and eventually fade from view.

    October 18, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. Mccain/Palin's rallies are downright scary

    It's too bad there may be some decent people in the Mccain rallies that are just looking for some answers to make up their minds, but they are overshadowed by such idiots, throwing gum at reporter's...shouting all their hate mongering trying to insinuate that Obama is a terrorist, it's unbelievable how idiotic the republicans have let most of their base get. They feed them this moronic nonesense and then they are left scratching their heads when the economy does so much better under a democratic administration just as it did after it had to clean up the republican mess in 92...

    October 18, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    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.

    It's gone too far. The McCain/Pitbull team needs to apologize to every American !! And NOW !!

    October 18, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Sonya

    McCain camps remarks are crossing the line repeatedly!! How come reporters are not questioning these people hard?! DO WE REALLY LIVE IN A DEMOCRACY?

    October 18, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  5. Elizabeth - TEXAS

    So Nancy some of the voter's in Virginia are not real voter's. Palin some of the voter's in the USA are not all pro-American voter's.

    You will be able to see that The REAL Voter's went to the poll's on the night of November 4th. See you then!

    October 18, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Don't censor me, Rebecca – I'm not the one that needs to be censored. Those divisive hateful republicans are the ones that need to be censored. They are tearing this country into pieces.

    October 18, 2008 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. Palin is foolish

    I wish republicans would not attack Obama under this belief that he is muslim. He is not! But what if he was? If having a Muslim or Jewish President what does that say about a country that was founded by individuals that escaped religous persecution? Vote for whoever you feel is best to lead this country, but base it on issues economy, healthcare, education, and our national security. This is a disappointing view of the Republican party.

    October 18, 2008 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  8. Josh

    His ‘Straight Talk’ motto seems to have no principlies anymore.
    The McCain campaign is embarrasingly unethical and dishonest. To think a man who at one time was ruined, hurt, and violated by the same tactics used on him. Rove and other campaign managers blasted McCains reputation and he has chosen to sell his soul.

    We are forced to watch Nancy Pfotenhauer practice her brand of phony, over-smiling condescending reiteration of annoying Republican talking points far too often While some might say that Nancy is just full of Botox and lip filler, I think she's full of crap. Nancy is
    allowing lie after lie to be repeated to the press without challenge, to give lie after lie airtime, The Press are worse cowards then the creeps working for McCain Palin.

    October 18, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  9. Glenn

    It is extremely difficult to understand why the voters of the "real Virginia" would vote for the policies and programs that best fit the propoganda of Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

    October 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. Winnie Hussein.... in Montana

    First, I would like both McCain and Palin to describe on live television without any coaching or scripting, what they believe socialism is. I doubt they can articulate any of the core principals of the economic theory.

    Second, if I were a presidential candidate and one of my supporters, or any of my campaign staff, set up a banner like the one you described in this article regarding another candidate, I would order it be taken down and I would address the issues the banner highlights. Of course, I believe myself to be truthful and a woman of integrity, so I guess that makes me a little different from McCain and Palin.

    Third, I truly hope and pray that the McCain/Palin campaign fails miserably.

    October 18, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  11. Mo, NC

    Wow...more ignorance

    October 18, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. vic

    Palin on SNL is a complete joke (and I'm not laughing).
    She is incompetent, has no education, no knowledge of real matters, and is spewing hate and racism at her rallies.
    I love my country, and I am ashamed of Palin and McCain.

    October 18, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  13. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    More Republican ugliness. Obama is going to have his hands full after he's elected to calm these people down. They're downright dangerous and McCain and Palin have brought this on. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    October 18, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. The Flag

    As I watched Barack Obama give his economic speech yesterday; I noticed a very peculiar flag next to the american flag behind him. It looked a little like our "stars and stripes", but instead it had a big "O" on it. Now he can put an big "O" on his plane if he likes, but what is he doing altering our American flag, the symbol of our proud country and our patriotism? Our flag represents one nation under God and that one nation is not the Obamanation!

    October 18, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. Meka




    October 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. edu of NOVA

    ANd I thought Carly Fiorina and Phil Graham were the gifts that keep on giving to Obama-Biden. Then came Sarah "Russia from my house, I need a translator during interviews" Palin and it was like Christmas, Hannukah, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Then comes Nancy "I'm from the real Virginia" Pfotenhauer and its like my Birthday ten days in a row. Wow I can't take anymore of these holidays!. Where does McCain get these people? its like they want him to lose!!. And thats not a bad thing!.
    GO GO Obama-Biden!!!

    October 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  17. dustin

    he's keepin the mantra of "we got them where we want them," after the election will he say "we had them where we wanted them and blew it"

    October 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  18. A moderate independent in Illinois

    There he goes again.... McCain being the DIVIDER, not a uniter. It's one part of a state (the BAD side being northern Virginia...which makes it unauthentic) and the REAL Virginia.... the part of the state that supposedly is more open to the McCain/Bush policies.
    Pathetic. Just absolutely, unequivocally pathetic on the part of John "Country First" McCain. This man has ZERO shame left, especially after raising the word "socialist" in trying to smear Sen. Obama.
    McCain is losing it... he'll do ANYTHING to rip this country apart as long as he believes it will further his chances for to obtain the presidency.
    Fortunately, it's not working. Virginia will go Blue on Nov. 4. And McCain already knows that.

    October 18, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  19. juca

    It is time McBush let go of VA , it is going blue.
    Obama/Biden 08

    October 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  20. Stephy

    McPalin needs to find the "Real World", Because in our world all the lies and half truths they tell don't fly!

    October 18, 2008 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  21. John

    On international and the war on terror issue, McCain has the experience and advantage over Barack for our safety. On the economy issue, it's clearly the Democrats who have been in control the past two years and they caused the financial crisis we find ourselves in because they prevented regulation of Fannie and Freddie. Obama received over $125k from Fannie and Freddie, shouldn't he give that back since Fannie & Freddie caused the Financial crisis?

    October 18, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  22. denise nc

    this is so disgusting by the mccain and palin campaign. to throw gum at ed henry is nuts. this the kind of hatred that mccain and palin are spewing how can we let mccain and palin run our country. disgusting
    why no one is taking about her pastor, witchcraft, abuse of power and her husband wanting to be out of the usa this is unreal what is wrong with the news

    October 18, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Dealt, Lisbon

    I find it startling that a deeply realigious man, as senator McCain, the leader of a strongly religious party, can say things like "senator Obama wants to spread your wealth around" as if that was one of the worst possible sins. I am not deeply religious, but I've read the Bible and if I've read it correctly Christ was much most serious than Obama about really spreading the wealth around.

    I don't much like paying taxes, but I do understand that they are necessary to build roads, hospitals, bridges, schools, pay the police and emergency workers, do some research and yes, lift up some of those unseemly poor that senator Mccain seems to think wreck any decent neighbourhood.

    But then those people that say "so help me God", "if we are so blessed" etc, seem to be the same people that accuse "he wants to spread your wealth around".

    I live in one of those countries that some americans call the Welfare States of Europe. And let me tell you, I do like americans, but after listening to McCain I'm mighty proud that I live in a country where no one lacks health care if they are sick. That's not socialism, read up some. That's common sense and also a bit of real christianity.

    October 18, 2008 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  24. indy chris

    Fascism makes its American debut, not with gunfire but with applause.

    October 18, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. Sue in MI

    Gosh, this party gets more and more exclusive-yesterday Palin divided the country into "pro-American" states versus the rest of us, and now they're dividing states. Are we sure that McCain isn't buying into the secessionist stuff and wants to create his own universe? Oh, and good old Todd gets a tour by himself-guess so he'll be ready to sit in that VP chair. Can he get a security clearance? Will he know Sarah's "nucular" codes? Are we terrified of this potential threesome yet?

    October 18, 2008 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
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