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. John in VA

    I cannot begin to tell you how insulted I am by that comment. I used to live in Burke and Chantilly, both part of Northern Va., and even though it isn't "southern" like the rest of the state, it is still Virginia.

    "That One" 08

    October 18, 2008 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  2. Mark in Omaha

    More divisive politics from the GOP. Please people, you don't have to agree with all of a candidates politics, help chose a leader that will bring the Country together based on our similarities, not divide us on our differences.

    October 18, 2008 09:48 pm at 9:48 pm |
  3. Republican who VOTED ALREADY for OBAMA

    "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."

    And this is crowd of people he calls 'my friends'. When will John McCain realise that he appeals to an ignorant, simplistic, intrinisic violent crowd who will always resort to some sort of negative and nasty verbal and physical behavior. Obama had a crowd of 100 000 people in Missori today. Was there anyone shouting hateful rhetorics and becomeing physically violent with the reporters or news team? I think not...

    WEll, go figure...

    October 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  4. No McSame

    Getting pretty scary out there on the ground folks. Death threats to people in the Chicago burbs who have Obama yard signs. The McCain Robocalls are also leading some of the more extreme people to believe that Obama is in league with Al Qaeda style terrorists.

    October 18, 2008 09:49 pm at 9:49 pm |
  5. Lyn

    McCain and his supporters is a disgrace to America,calling Obama names,throwing a pack of gum at CNN Ed Henry, and McCain never ask them to stop, McCain & Palin is incouraging his supporters, like how he hired Joe the Plumber. McCain you are a disgrace to us the American people.

    October 18, 2008 09:51 pm at 9:51 pm |
  6. nancy

    Is that the BIGGEST sign you could find, McCain?

    October 18, 2008 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  7. CBA1999

    These are pipe dreams. McCain is going to get a big beating in the election....17 days and counting. Don't believe a word that old man and his bumbling side kick say over the next two weeks. It's all GOP politics designed to scare you!

    October 18, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  8. the Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I love Virginia. Great presidents have come from there and there pictures are on some of our currency. I'm proud to say that Washington and Jefferson are two of the finest.

    Unfortunately Obama is trying to buy this election with money from the welfare queens checks. Don't let him do this.

    Obama is a well known liar and a man who listened to Reverend Wright say the wrong things for twenty years.

    Obama also told Joe the Plumber he needed Joe's money for wealth redistribution "which is code" for new welfare programs.

    Obama has voted 94 times to increase taxes and as far as I know never voted to reduce them. So a tax cutter, he is not.

    McCain will protect our values our country and our retirements.

    October 18, 2008 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  9. Ryan in Johnstown

    Really? The "real" Virginia? Does anyone remember the Tyson-Holyfield fight in 97? Tyson being gamely beat the first two rounds and was so desperate he bit Holyfield's ear! Is it only a matter of days before McCain tries to nibble on Barack?

    October 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  10. alvino

    Don't you just love the McCain Campaign's focus on dividing our country. 'Country First' my butt! Keep on tearing the country apart you nit wit.

    I for one am looking forward to the end of you and your crooked cronies and look forward to the McCain/Palin ticket getting slapped back to reality on November 4.

    October 18, 2008 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  11. Mike, MD

    These people dreaming man for real, Mcsame its almost over old man...Its almost time for Sara Palin go back to Alaska...I'm sick tired hear this lady every day talking nonsense stuff.

    October 18, 2008 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  12. cmars

    So she isn't a real Virginian then, if she lives in Northern Virginia.

    I think she just made herself irrelevant... much like the rest of McCain's campaign.

    October 18, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  13. alvino

    McCain palled around with a convicted terrorist (G. Gordon Liddy)

    October 18, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  14. don

    Well from probably Palins less American regions. Advance voting opened today in New Mexico and two of the first one in the box were for OBAMA!

    October 18, 2008 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  15. Amy

    I swear, everything he states is a repeat to what he has said before. I never really cared too much about politics, but this one is like a freaking soap opera. Everything that McCain and Palin say is like a Friday cliffhanger.....makes you ask what is going to happen next. Just so you know Mr. McCain, we've got YOU where we want you...on your way back to Arizona.

    October 18, 2008 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  16. Tim in NC

    As is the usual tactic for Republicans,

    Slice-N-Dice the population, further insulate divisions within our population. Feed your politics on fear and anger instead of vision and substance.

    October 18, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  17. Paul

    I thought that the 'real Virginia' reference was intriguing. I was watching that interview on CNN and it raised my eyebrows. So are all of the "red" areas on the map the 'real U.S.A.?' haha

    October 18, 2008 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |

    john you can pull out all the nonsense you want but come nov 4, lose you will! and i can't wait

    October 18, 2008 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  19. vote

    too many people are coming to texas from socialist states, they bring thier bad morals.

    October 18, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  20. amandazz

    Is mr dude going south to try and get the south to seceed with alaska?

    October 18, 2008 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  21. nyindependent

    Oh, I get it...."real Virginia"..."folks who love America"....So only if you're a Republican can you get a label like this. The rest of us (Independents and Democrats), must not love America.....
    Where is the outrage?

    October 18, 2008 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  22. Maggie Muggins From Selwyn

    Still not guts you won't print the truth but you can read this about you anywhere on the Internet.

    October 18, 2008 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |

    Dana bash needs to go work for fox news . her bias shines through everytime i see her do a report on the obama campaign. Compared to when she is reporting on the mccain campaign. She is smiling and very upbeat about her report. Please fire this woman she is giving cnn a bad reputation.

    October 18, 2008 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  24. Keith

    "Real" republicans are tired of the nonsensical spin, I bet.

    October 18, 2008 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  25. Mikey

    From the article: "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."

    Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R – Minnesota) has now urged the media to investigate members of Congress who harbor anti-American views.

    Forget George Wallace, it appears Jim Crow and Joe McCarthy are running the McCain-Palin campaign. If it quacks like a duck.......

    October 18, 2008 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
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