WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is taking flack from one of his Democratic rivals for attending a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by a prominent Republican lobbyist who publicly opposed Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.
The event was held Tuesday night at the Washington office of the BGR Group, a top government affairs and public relations firm founded by three Republicans including lobbyist Ed Rogers, a friend of McAuliffe's who co-hosted the fundraiser.
The campaign of former House member Brian Moran - who is seeking the Democratic nomination along with McAuliffe and state senator Creigh Deeds - called the fundraiser "offensive" and accused Rogers of joining with "Rush Limbaugh and others in raising racially and religiously charged attacks against then Sen. Obama."
"It's sad that in the same week Terry McAuliffe aired a radio ad claiming credit for helping to elect Barack Obama, he's holding a fundraiser with someone who did everything he could to defeat him," said Moran campaign manager Andrew Roos.
The McAuliffe campaign hit back, arguing that the eventual Democratic nominee will need a thick wallet to defeat Republican candidate Bob McDonnell and accusing the Moran team of being the only campaign in the Democratic race "actively attacking other Democrats."
They called the BGR group "bipartisan" and said the fundraiser demonstrates that McAuliffe will bring an ability to work with both parties to the governor's mansion.
"Terry knows that the race for governor is going to be very competitive, which is why he is working hard to ensure that he has the resources he needs to build a large grassroots campaign," McAuliffe spokeswoman Lis Smith said of the fundraiser.
Though the Moran campaign has Rogers in the crosshairs, McAuliffe's staff was quick to point out that the host of Tuesday's fundraiser was Jonathan Mantz, a BGR employee and a Democrat who was the finance director for Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, which McAuliffe chaired.
UPDATE: Brooke Borkenhagen, communications director for the Deeds campaign, said in a statement that "Democrats should be focused on our plans to keep Virginia moving forward."
"The stakes are too high in this election," she said. "Bob McDonnell wants to roll back all of the progress we have made for Virginia’s working families under Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. That’s why Creigh Deeds is running a grassroots campaign and talking with people all across the Commonwealth about his plan to create hope and opportunity in every corner of Virginia."