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. Mike, MD

    This is nothing than racist, because most people who live close to DC are black that's the reason she says people who live north Virginia not a real Virginia shame on you Mcsame.

    October 18, 2008 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  2. Mook from Canada

    throwing gum at a media person? good thing there were no rocks or rifles close by for that woman to use.

    October 18, 2008 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  3. McWho??

    Is this the real America?????..I'm just disgusted

    October 18, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  4. Stefanie

    Oh great. We are not only dividing the country, we are now dividing states. Wonderful!

    October 18, 2008 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  5. Linda-Omaha

    The "divide and conquer" tactic seems poor stratagy to win Virginia to me. Todd Palin going to "more favorable" areas?? Maybe those conservative "upstate" citizens should take their first and second ammendment rights and go meet him, just for fun, you know, because surely the good people wouldn't be so poorly mannered as to throw gum at a visitor in their state?? I do feel sorry for Mr. McCain, as I believe he has in the last 6 months become a "fallen from grace" hero. Gone is the pride, integrity, honesty and even the courage to "talk straight", my friends. I also believe his judgement has been shown to be VERY SERIOUSLY challenged, in his VP pick. He was duped by Sarah Palin, and all those in his campaign who pushed her agenda. He says he's learned from his mistakes, but recent history shows otherwise. One last thing, touting his constant "reaching across party lines, and fighting the even the Republicans" on so many occasions, makes one think he would like it if there was just all one political party in our "democratic society". Sound dangerous? Vote for Mr Obama.

    October 18, 2008 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. Fred A. Harrington

    How can a man who is working so hard to divide this nation possibly expect to become its leader? The nastiness that characterizes his campaign is almost beyond belief. We must all speak loudly against everything this pathetic, peevish old man stands for.

    October 18, 2008 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
  7. Dr. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA


    October 18, 2008 10:33 pm at 10:33 pm |
  8. George

    The republiklas need to remembers a couple things: Joe the Plumber was planted by the Mccain campaign. He isn't a real plumber, he's no small business owner, yet he seems to have connections to a major player in the Keating 5 scandal. Joe the Plumber is a gimmick pulled straight from the Rove playbook. He is the new incarnation of William Horton: a great tool that cost Dukakis the 1988 election against George Bush. They are now using this character, the plumber, to make the false argument that Obama is a socialist for trying to increase taxes on the richest 5% of this country's population (when all he wants to do is to simply reverse GWBush's cuts for the rich to the tax rates of the Reagan-era), a group in which the Plumber doesn't belong. They speak of socialism, while ignoring that the republican president effectively nationalized the financial sector with his bailout plan! How can you talk about socialism when your own party leader is turning private capital to the State?

    October 18, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  9. kelicone

    It seems like every time I check out these ticker reports, I find yet another example of the Republicans splitting up our fine country into some pieces that they find more acceptable than others. Palin's pro-American small towns vs. Washington, Pfotenhauer and her "real" Virginia vs. northern Virginia, the ridiculous Rep. Michele Bachmann from Minnesota insinuating that those with leftist views in the House are possibly anti-American and that the news media should launch an investigation…… Is this what we really want to establish here in America, an us. vs. them mentality? I think this is extremely dangerous, and divisive rhetoric, and if it is not tempered, I am afraid of the kind of anger, hate, intolerance, and violence that could result. It breaks my heart to hear and read this kind of stuff in 2008. I always thought that what makes America truly unique… truly great…is the freedoms we are granted, and the diversity of our nation. In my opinion, it is these kind of divisive politics that are Un-American.

    October 18, 2008 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  10. jason, tx

    What next? Are they going say that some Americans aren't American.

    October 18, 2008 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  11. jessica in va

    What was said is the truth! ( the real virginia ) is for mccain!! up north they are democrats.

    i do not see what is so insulting about that !!
    you are voting for the democrat !!!

    mccain 2008

    October 18, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  12. FLRepublican

    bunch of Macacas?

    October 18, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  13. Bruce

    John McCain claims to be "hurt" by Congressman Lewis's comments. Yet he allows supporters to sport Soviet symbols and Muslim symbols as references to Obama. Can he be so blind with ambition not to see the hatred and division his campaign and running mate have sown? And what is this nonsense about some parts of America being more patriotic than others? It is time this country to repudiate these hate mongers.

    October 18, 2008 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  14. Elvera

    I am so sick and tired of these labels: 'not real Virginia", not real (not patriotic) American…. What is next? Not real people? How come so many McCain/Palin supporters still did not realize that the entire McCain/Palin campaign is a scam? Fake maverick – McCain; fake ‘reformer’ – Palin; even fake plumber – Joe. They probably believe that they can fool most of the people most of the time. McCain and Palin bravado is just a complete lack of knowledge. They are attacking Obama like vicious dogs, accusing him of anything and everything. It is pathetic! McCain is definitely erratic and delusional. And Palin…? Well, David Brooks said, Sarah Palin ‘represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party’. Goodbye, ‘my friends’. I hope I will not see you again soon.
    Elvera, 65-year old white female from Texas

    October 18, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  15. AdamW

    Real Virginia? Racist Virgina?

    McCain and his followers are some hateful folks.

    October 18, 2008 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  16. JMH

    She is right on about her comment about NOVA – It has changed dramatically over the past 10 years.

    A buddy of mine was at the rally. There was a 3 mile line to get in so – some of those people had toliet plungers. WAY TO GO JOE!

    As far as you people commenting on the pro-American thing. Flat-out McCain supported us (including me) when I was in Iraq – That makes him more American to me than both Obama and Biden combined. All I heard the whole time I was in Al Anbar was how bad our morale was and how we were losing from the whole dem party. WRONG ANSWER. We're at the 10 yard line and all you guys want to do is PUNT. I watched tens of thousands of Iraqi's walk up to ten miles to vote for the 1st time in the history of their country and Obama and the gang want to pull out because they don't have the stomach to let VOLUNTEERS FINISH the job. You're real, real concerned about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi's that will die when the country colapses if we pull out early. 99.5% of you have been at the mall for the past 7 years and haven't been remotely touched by anything that has gone on in Iraq or Afghanistan- By the way – we fought terrorists from over 30 countries who came to Iraq to kill us – I'd put the target on my back again and again to make sure they go anywhere other than here. Typical Dems – you sound like me little kids – Its too hard, I can't do it, I want to quit.

    October 18, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  17. No way no how no McLies

    First we have "pro-America" v. the rest of America. Now we have "real Virginia" v. "communist Virginia?" When is this going to end? I am completely disgusted with the way this campaign is trying to divide the country. Is McCain the reincarnation of McCarthy? I can't wait for Nov 4 when the "socialists" win!!

    October 18, 2008 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  18. Matt

    McCain and Palin make me vomit in my mouth.

    October 18, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  19. turning IN blue from Chicago

    First they insult Chicago
    Then label some parts "pro-America"
    Then define "real Virginia"

    They must not want to win this election


    October 18, 2008 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  20. ...

    Wow, now they're questioning the patriotism of the American people.


    October 18, 2008 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  21. FactCheck

    Congressman Lewis was wrong about the McCain campaign rallies. Some of their tactics would make even George Wallace wince in disgust.

    October 18, 2008 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  22. KJL

    McCain and Palin are becoming more evil by the minute. It will be a nightmare to live in this country if they win, because they will continue to foster the hate and division they are enjoying so much now.

    October 18, 2008 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  23. Eugene

    With a campaign like his, who needs an opposition to defeat you? For a basically decent guy Sen. McCain has spent far too much of the past year kicking himself in the backside.

    October 18, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  24. Matt

    I use to live in Virginia and travel all over the state,North,south,east, and west ievery part is Virginia an filled with the most nicest and pro-americian people you would ever want to meet,these Mccain people say more stupid things day after day...Please turn Virginia Blue...

    October 18, 2008 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  25. NB

    I am really scared about the outcome of this election. I was confident thinking Obama is going to win. But now with the kind of campaign McCain is running ,they are scaring people and few biased media people are helping them to get away with it. We don't deserve this.
    With McCain and Palin in the white house what is going to happen to this country.

    October 18, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
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