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. Angela

    When they get into a hole, McCain's camp just doesn't know when to stop digging.

    A couple of days ago it was Palin who thought that not all of America are real Americans and now this. Sad to say the least.

    October 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Get Real

    McCain's campaign is divisive, negative and reeks of the 1960's. I blame Nasty Lipstick wearing pitbull sarah Palin. every since the RNC convention, she has added an element of division, hatred, nastiness, and anti-American noise.

    Sarah reminds me of those hatefill separatist women who are seen in documentaries about teh bad element in this country,

    She is not ready to be President, Vice President or Govenor of Alaska. When she returns to Alaska on Nov. 6 they should impeach her.

    McCain has allowed the worst of our nation to rise up in his campaign.

    October 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  3. LT for Obama

    So I figured it out. The heavy negative campainging is to cover up the stupid remarks that are coming out of their mouths. McCain and Palin need to rewind back about six months and start over because as far as I am concerned, that is the only way I feel they can win if they keep talking about Real Virginia and Pro America.

    October 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  4. PUMBU


    October 18, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  5. Keith

    These crazy Republicans are out of control! They are now resorting to violence! Throwing gum at CNN employees! Shame on them!

    October 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  6. john ny

    ed henry is a decent journalist this is the kind of hatred and spew that mccain and palin are doing. It is the most disgusting ticket i have ever seen we have got to the american people the hatred that these two are saying why is no one in an uproar everyone talks obama and ayers
    this is much worse can you imagine them in the white house this is not good

    October 18, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  7. maxine

    I guess the real virginia is also the pro-America Virginia.

    It is really ashame how these people are trying to win by dividing and conquering.

    John McCain do you really care about your legacy?

    October 18, 2008 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  8. Tim

    First some parts of he country are not real Americans per John McCain's new "interest" Palin (Cindy watch your back, John might be creeping), now I'm not in the real Virginia? You are a creep McCain and that's the reason you will lose VA bigtime on the way to your lose on Nov 4th.

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




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

    I commented on this before, but this bears repeating...Real Virginia? WTH is that? That is just like Sarah Palin's comments about the "best" and pro-America parts of America are the small-towns…Let me say that as an Army Veteran, former federal employee, former teacher (government) and tax-payer citizen of a large metropolitan area, I am repulsed by these comments that suggest that somehow we are not REAL Americans or that we are not pro-Americans or that somehow people who live in small towns are better than those in big cities. America deserves so much better than this…I am proud to cast my vote for Obama/Biden on November 4th to say NO to this type of divisive and toxic mentality.

    October 18, 2008 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. Dick

    Let's face it. The real radicals and terrorists are McCain supporters. These rightwing fascists are the true "Anti-Americans". McCain is just dishing out labels such as liberal, leftist, and socialist to give these neanderthals cover for their bigotry and racism.
    Let's start telling the truth for a change. McCain has NOT done so during his whole campaign! He has used innuendo and outright lies. His "Joe the Plumber" is a tax evading fraud and shill for the Republican party. How much did he cost, McCain? Oh wait, these guys work for free.

    October 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  12. john ny

    nancy is disgusting and insult to women. Nancy is spewing hate just like palin and mccain are. poor ed henry this is the type of people mccain and palin are attracting how come no one in the news organization is talking palin and mccains disgusting tactics especially palin with her abuse of power and witchcraft I DON'T GET NEWS PEOPLE PLEASE WAKE UP TALK ABOUT HOW PALIN IS NOT FIT TO BE VP HER HUSBAND WANTS TO BE OUT OF THE USA HE BELONGS TO THE AIP, PALIN ABUSED HER POWER AND WAS FOUND UNETHICAL WHY IS THE NEWS ORGANIZATIONS NOT IN AN UPROAR OF MCCAIN AND PALINS BEHAVIOR EVERYONE WAS SO QUICK TO TALK OBAMA AYER SITUATION WHICH THERE IS NONE PALIN IS SICKENING AND DISGUSTING I WONDER WHAT HER KIDS THINK AND AMERICA WANTS THEM TO RUN OUR COUNTRY THIS IS DISGUSTING

    October 18, 2008 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. Jay in NY (Going for Obama!)

    Hmm, I think Obama will still win Virginia, although McCain has campaigned here frequently. I think Northern Virginia, especially Loudon, Fairfax and Prince William Counties will help Obama greatly. Also, other cities in Virginia will likely go for Obama. Areas in the mountains and rural areas will likely vote McCain.

    Virginia is a very key state for Obama. I believe if he wins this state, he wins this election. Come on Virginia, turn it BLUE!

    October 18, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. BC

    'real Virginia', 'real Americans' – these pathetic losers consider the only 'real' people to be the ones who agree with their twisted and extreme ideas. I have a news flash for them – when they lose this election, it will indeed be 'real' Americans who have voted against them – in 'real' Virginia, 'real' Ohio, etc, etc, etc, etc....

    October 18, 2008 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  15. Geri overseas

    As the McCain/Palin tries to divide up the United States into what has been inelegantly termed "pro-America" and "real" America, Americans need to not play ostrich but to question what that really means. As the last days of the election cycle play out and the fear of losing becomes more of a possibility, the real feelings seem to be coming out. Political correctness willl inelegantly give way to ugly, self-serving hatemongering and fear. It's beginning. If these were children you would say "Stop it".

    October 18, 2008 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. Brian Rich

    Sounds like Hitler and his "real Germans."

    Or further, his "real humans."

    Go away please, fascists and totalitarians need not apply.

    October 18, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Brian

    Wow, I would have thought John Mcain's top advisor ,Nancy Pfotenhauer, would have been smart enough to stay away from the phrase "the real Virginia". Whats next? Will Nancy call a young man at one of Mccains rallies Macca. Hey Nancy, there is only one Virginia and ease up on the lip gloss.But than. This is the campaign that encourages Muslim crescents and gum throwing. These are the same people that gave us "W'. Boy there are some real whack jobs that support Senator Mccain and Ms. Palin!

    October 18, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. Tim

    Racism has largely crept up from local GOP operations into the whole campaign. It doesn't matter though, by using racist tactics the McCain campaign is allying itself to only a small part of America. Most Americans are decent people and are turned off by this kind of stuff.

    October 18, 2008 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. Brian

    Todd Palin wanted to secede
    Sarah is an 'outsider' by her own admission
    and John Mccain wasn't even born in the USA
    Good luck in Virginia

    October 18, 2008 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  20. Missy

    If McCain wins the presidency, he won't know Virginia. Will you people wake up?

    October 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  21. Griff

    Wall Street? Now becomes the Crawl Street.... A Wall of Snow Street..
    The Big Melt-Down. The Stall-Street....

    October 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  22. Eric from California

    I never knew there was a "real" and a "fake" part of America. Thanks for clarifying that, Republican talking head.

    October 18, 2008 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  23. Curtis - Marietta, GA

    Wow, so much for bipartisinship. Not only have I been called a socialist, a terrorist, an American Hater and not living in real "america", now there are people who aren't living in a real state!

    Is anyone else really worried that we might be rounded up into "camps" if McCain/Palin wins and our state doesn't vote for them? I am.

    October 18, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  24. kenny cole

    Maccain you toast

    October 18, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  25. natasha in tally

    Obama for POTUS in 3....2.......1.......
    Obama 08

    October 18, 2008 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
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