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. Sean

    Can't help yourself by DEFINING the Real Virginia, because NOW you IMPLY that the Democratic Part is NOT the REAL part of the state! Good job McCain!

    October 18, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  2. From the North

    "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."

    More thugs for McCain to be 'proud of'.


    October 18, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  3. Wayne in CA

    Republicans have been whining about the "media" since Spiro Agnew...McCain knows that if he keeps his rhetoric at the 3rd grade level he can get a crowd reaction that looks good on TV ads that can be edited...and because he has no clue what the American people need...want...and demand..he thinks it'll win him some votes...

    the GOP has just given us the worst president in history and the worst presidential campaign on top of that..

    Throw the BUMS out..!

    October 18, 2008 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. Fraser

    How dare McCain and his camp think that THEY determine who is "pro-American", "patriotic" or part of "real Virginia"! Instead of name-calling and reveling in unbridled arrogance, they should focus on how they can help fix the American economy.

    Enough of this petty name calling and drama, I'm voting for Obama!

    October 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  5. Lyndon

    McCain's rallies have turned into a festival of troglodytes chanting and yelling at whatever they're told to. I'm just glad that there are intelligent conservatives out there that have the capacity to think and reason on their own without having to resort to mob mentality and outright falsehoods against Barack Obama.

    McCain, your time is up in 17 days.

    October 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. Tayo, NY

    The McCain campaign is becomng more erratic. certainly we can take 17 days of this behavior but its certainly important to make the campaign history on 4th of Nov.


    October 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  7. Ken

    So campaign surrogate Nancy Pfotenhauer does not consider a Democratic portion of the state of Virginia to be a part of the state. WOW. That is preaching separatism more than anything I have ever herd. That is not what our country is about. We are all America. We are not a Democrat or Republican America. We are America.

    Given her statement about Northern Virginal, if the state votes Democratic then it would be some other state that does it. That is the dumbest thing I have ever herd. While I am a Democrat and I support Senator Obama, if after the election is over I find that our new President is McCain, I will not be happy with it but it would have been the decision of the majority and I would accept it as he would the President of the same United States of which I am a citizen. I think this person needs to have their head examined.

    October 18, 2008 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. Cheryl in Florida

    McCain will not work to bring this country together as seen in this article he even tries to divide states. Sure right now he and his running mate are out there doing to late nite/comedy show route and trying to represent themselves as nice people but their prior remarks and actions do not bear this out; those prior actions were the real personifications. They are just trying to get votes now as their numbers and support are in the tubes. Of course when you go to one of their rallies you can only expect hate from their followers either verbally or thru posters because they have allowed and encouraged this type of activity and do not hold themselves or these hate mongers responsible.

    October 18, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  9. sandee in Portland

    Oh my God! A sign saying Stop Obama and featuring the Soviet hammer & sickle and a Muslim crescent! This republican campaign has truly lost it's mind. McCain should have immediately ordered this sign removed. In not doing so, he is inciting the American public even more. CNN, can you do nothing. The age of McCarthy is again upon us. As journalists, you should be reporting this incitement has to stop before it damages the core of the U.S.

    October 18, 2008 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |

    John McCain-your hero status is officially null and void.


    October 18, 2008 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  11. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana

    The McCain campaign is out of control!

    October 18, 2008 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  12. vahe

    mr.mccain please quit

    October 18, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  13. Kin (Anaheim, Ca.)

    Why are McCain using the words 'REAL VIRGINA'? Didn't we just heard me say at the last debate he did not care for the statement from Congressman Conyers about 'segregation and Gov. Wallace'.
    Apparently, McCain and his crew are out to stir up unwanted feelings. He is two-faced !!! It is a darn shame that 'UNDER-COVER RACIAL TACTICS' keep coming up from them...
    Big money politics really want to win. It may take some 'Socialist' theories to get AMERICA back on track. But whatever is needed should be used !!!
    ******************************O B A M A / B I D E N************************

    October 18, 2008 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  14. Stew

    Metro DC. Not real Virginians. You got it right! This is a call to the base to get out and vote for John and Sarah! Stand up for America!

    October 18, 2008 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |

    Virginia, please don't let obama destroy our country.
    Vote McCain / Palin

    October 18, 2008 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  16. S. Boatman

    We Know Exactly What Long Neck Nancy Meant!

    October 18, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  17. art200224

    I'm a real Virginian.



    McCain_Palin 08

    October 18, 2008 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  18. Mike in Ohio

    Obama's campaign is one of inclusiveness, bridging across the traditional polarized political spectrum. McCain's message continues to be one of divisiveness. You see it in the signs and the behaviors at his rallies, and you hear it in the mindset of his advisors.

    October 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  19. Janice

    These two candidates should forget about Virginia all together and should get together and make a solemn promise to the thugs that have taken that little boy from vegas, if you hurt that child, and don't turn him loose immediately there will be hell to come and they should mean it.

    October 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  20. Bama4Obama

    As opposed to...the "fake" Virginia?

    Get a life, McCain!

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 18, 2008 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  21. Independent


    October 18, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  22. sick & tired of it

    I'm getting so very sick of the divisivness of Palin/Mccain (that's in the right order because chances are Palin will be Pres. in the near future.) I' voted for the UNITER OBAMA. Is anyone else getting sick of this juvenile behavior??

    October 18, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  23. john hussein

    Obviously, when you have a middle name of Hussein, people can be critical.....

    October 18, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  24. le.petite

    Here's some real straight talk: There is no REAL "this or that." It is a matter of perception. McCain/Palin are trying to manipulate people into thinking that one is better than the other, more authentic than the other and more "real" than the other. They also put an emphasis on the "other" to perpetuate fear into people, because they want so badly for Obama's campaign to fail.

    Bottom line and more straight talk, no philosophizing and no BS: Obama/Biden WILL prevail and November 4th is going to be the turning point of our country. Enough said.

    October 18, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  25. go vote


    As he said though... He's proud of his attendees at these rallies.

    ...One woman threw a pack of gum at CNN Correspondent Ed Henry.

    Real Nice

    October 18, 2008 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
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