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. Hope for the future

    Maybe some of these Repubs need their own country. Follow Palin back to Alaska; she will make it happen. LOL.

    Obama / Biden 08

    October 18, 2008 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  2. Scott in Norfolk

    Obama stands for Socialism, plain and simple.
    VA for McCain-Palin

    October 18, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  3. Is the AIP active?

    RNC Pundits="Gracious" Racists

    How ghetto. the RNC is pimping the 'Stepford chicks' as their spokespersons.

    October 18, 2008 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  4. andrea

    What is wrong with those people ???Shame on McCain and his supporters. What hate and disrespect.

    October 18, 2008 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  5. Loran

    JMH How dare you insult Americans for not wanting to lose their sons, husbands and children losing their fathers. I thank God you made it back but what about my friend's husband and others who didn't. We honor your service, but YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TELL US HOW TO FEEL!!!

    October 18, 2008 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  6. Perusing-Through

    . . . and we supposed to believe McSame, Palin, and Republican supporters like Nancy Pfotenhauer will do a better job in bringing the country and other nations together. Yeah, , , right.

    GOD Bless the United States of America!
    GOD Bless the Obama-Biden Leadership Team!

    October 18, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  7. Tom, VA

    All of Virginia is the "real Virginia". Just because you do not like who is moving in does not mean it's not reality. The state is changing...and that's REAL. F off, lady.

    October 18, 2008 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    Could what McCain and Palin are doing with this divisiveness be considered home grown terrorism? I'll have to look up the definition, but isn't terrorism related to fear and scare tactics?

    October 18, 2008 11:15 pm at 11:15 pm |
  9. Barb

    What a sad state this country is in. I just finished watching a segment of the HBO series John Adams. There were a ton of problems at that time, namely the British but what did the leaders do? They united! It is so say that John Mccain says "Country first" but he is anything BUT! He is Mccain first – all this made of BS about Obama to scare the people – I hope Karl Rove politics will fail this time.

    October 18, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  10. Annie, Atlanta

    Looked it up in Websters online:


    1. A state of intense fear. 2. One that inspires fear.


    A systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion.

    October 18, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  11. Joseph Adewole

    We shall all see; Americans can no longer be fooled....That is The World's greatest nation!!......But l don't really think that McCain has anything tangible to tell Americans except to attack Barack. One wonders why he has not been telling Americans what he would do if elected instead of bullying Barack. The younger candidate has proved to be more sensible with a real plan for America but maybe it is McCain's age that is making him to behave the way he has been behaving. May God save America from McCain

    October 18, 2008 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  12. 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 now 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 allow lie after lie to be repeated to the press without challenge.

    October 18, 2008 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  13. voter

    Scott in Norfolk

    I thought the republicans were socialist since they bought out the financial system (banks) in wall street. second, the republicans say that they are bipartisan and work across the aisle specifcally McCain. Yet the republicans alienate democrats by saying we are unamerican. does not sound bipartisan to me.

    October 18, 2008 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  14. Arden

    I have seen and had enough. John McCain, Sarah Palin and there whole damm sick, twisted, terrorist thinking campaign can go to hell. I just finished watching the Chris Matthews show and according to him there is more slime to come. The McCain campaign is all about preaching and I did say preaching terrorism. Take the hint. All republicans have to be really stupid to believe any of this crap. If they do then John McCain, and his entire campaign are pushing terrorism. There I said and I am not taking it back.

    October 18, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  15. BTHogan

    "Obama stands for Socialism, plain and simple."



    So much to be proud of, Repubs!

    October 18, 2008 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  16. SARA


    October 18, 2008 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  17. Don

    America will not be same again after this election...it will be even worse under McCain with palin...she is so divisive

    October 18, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  18. Pat, Pa.

    This man and his thugs will stop at nothing. I hope everyone remembers all of this when they go to vote and they are temped to do it for ANY REPUBLICAN. They really have to learn that their crap has got to stop and that we will no longer allow them to do this to us. If we vote for them then we are asking for what they dish out.

    October 18, 2008 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  19. jill in va

    Hey Jessica in VA,

    My family came to Virginia in the 17th century, I went to college instate, and now live in Northern VA. Remind me again, why am I not a "real" Virginian??

    October 18, 2008 11:31 pm at 11:31 pm |
  20. Ryan

    Now McCain and Palin think they have the authority to label who's more American and who's not based on geographical preferences? Seriously? This beyond in insulting. These two need to go down and go down hard so that the American people NEVER have to suffer through another campaign as pathetic, xenophobic and divisive as the one the McCain/Palin have waged..

    October 18, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  21. Amy

    I guess the McCain campaign's true colors are showing. Earlier this month Joe McCain, John's brother, called Arlington and Alexandria, VA, "communist country."

    After that wasn't received too well he tried to explain it away as a joke. Now what would have happened if Barack or Joe or any of their surrogates said that? We'd still be hearing about it today!

    October 18, 2008 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  22. Kim

    That's like Palin's comment implying that some of America is not pro-America because we don't side with McCain. Well at least their party is consistent.

    October 18, 2008 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  23. Yeah Obama !

    I would rather have a socialist Obama than a lying, cheating, pathetic, desperate, whacko like John McCain. He gets worse everyday. Mental problem for sure.

    October 18, 2008 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  24. Ask Sarah what "Socialism" means

    Please... someone... anyone... Joe the Plummer, a soccer mom or dad, even a pig with lipstick... Ask Sarah if she even knows what "socialism" is and how it applies to Obama!!!

    All she's doing is stirring the hate/fear base of "real" America who might be convinced by such shameful, wrong rhetoric. McCain, himself, should know better and put a stop to it... because it harms ALL of America...

    October 18, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  25. tony

    Let McCain try to win Virginia without Northern Virginia. The voters in Northern Virginia count too, whether McCain thinks they are real Virginians or not.

    October 18, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
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