April 3rd, 2009
04:29 PM ET
6 years ago

Virginia Democrats blast Huckabee for 'Beltway' comments

Huckabee told voters in Appalachia that northern Virginians have it easier.
Huckabee told voters in Appalachia that northern Virginians have it easier.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia Democrats are eagerly pouncing on Mike Huckabee for telling an audience in Appalachia that voters in northern Virginia "aren't necessarily thinking the same way folks like you and me think."

Huckabee made the remarks in southwest Virginia's Tazewell County on Monday while campaigning with Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor. His appearance was recorded and posted on YouTube by a state Democratic operative.

"They have never fully understood how hard it is for a lot of people to put a paycheck together, be able to feed a family," Huckabee said. "Some folks up there near the Beltway," he claimed, have "never fully understood how hard it is for a lot of people to put a paycheck together, be able to feed a family."

The comments were reminiscent of a gaffe made last October by Nancy Pfotenhauer, a campaign adviser to John McCain, who went on cable television and contrasted the strongly Democratic Washington suburbs with the rest of state, which she called 'real Virginia.' The Obama campaign, eager to shore up support in vote-heavy northern Virginia, seized on the comment.

Virginia Democratic Party chairman Richard C. Cranwell called Huckabee's remarks "divisive" and demanded that McDonnell condemn them. "It's the same thing they tried to do last year with the 'real Virginia,'" Cranwell said. "I expect we won't be seeing Mike Huckabee back in Virginia again."

State senator Creigh Deeds, one of three Democrats seeking his party's nomination for governor this year, said Huckabee's comments were "hurtful" and asked McDonnell supporters to "pick up a newspaper to find out that Virginians are hurting across the commonwealth."

Another Democratic candidate, former delegate Brian Moran, said Huckabee "knows better than this." Moran said "there's no real Virginia or fake Virginia, there's just one Commonwealth of Virginia."

Terry McAuliffe, the third Democratic candidate for governor and a resident of the wealthy northern Virginia enclave of McLean, did not put out a statement on Huckabee's remarks.

The McAuliffe campaign had made a separate push on Thursday to highlight a different statement in the same Huckabee speech. Huckabee joked that Republicans should let the air out of Democrats' tires on election day. McAuliffe said that voter suppression is "not a laughing matter."

A spokesman for McDonnell, Tucker Martin, pointed out that McDonnell was raised in Fairfax and that "he knows northern Virginia is the economic engine of Virginia." Martin said Huckabee "made some comments that do not reflect how integrated Virginia's economy is."

Virginia congressman Frank Wolf also chimed in to defend McDonnell. "He understands Northern Virginia and the issues we face because this is where he is from, and where his family is from," Wolf said in a statement issued through the McDonnell campaign.

UPDATE: McAuliffe issued a statement calling Huckabee's remarks "the latest incarnation of the tired 'Northern Virginia vs. the rest of the state' myth" that has blocked progress in the General Assembly.

"It's unfortunate that Bob McDonnell stood by silently as Mike Huckabee demeaned Northern Virginia," he said.


Filed under: Bob McDonnell • Brian Moran • Creigh Deeds • Mike Huckabee • Terry McAuliffe
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Lynn

    Just another phoney "religious" fanatic who spews hate, intolerance and division.

    April 3, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  2. LWA

    To ib, you have got it all backwards, Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads constitute the lions share of tax revenue for the state. Tax dollars from those areas go to support rural counties in the southern and western part of the commonwealth, not the other way around.

    April 3, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  3. arithmetic is liberal

    wasabe kid April 3rd, 2009 5:03 pm ET

    Everybody gets so huffy about a phrase. All Huckabee meant was exactly what we all understood. ...

    That statement is:
    1. True
    2. Not an insult to anyone.
    3. So what?

    Yeah, but it wasn't the statement that offended, it was the intent.
    "THEY are not like US..." "NON-NATIVE Virginians..." It's all intended to create an "Other" to focus your rage upon.

    I'm a Southern Californian. I know that my culture is different from Northern Californians and it is different from Arizonans. You're an El Pasonian who is different from a Houstonian or a Dallas-Ft. Worthian.

    But the difference is that you're not a politician inciting hate for a "different" group in a speech.

    April 3, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    You know, it's funny...for a guy who refuses to admit we evolved from apes, he does a fantastic job of proving it every time he opens his mouth.

    April 3, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  5. floyd in New York

    Lynn April 3rd, 2009 5:06 pm ET

    Just another phoney "religious" fanatic who spews hate, intolerance and division

    April 3, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  6. Floyd in New York

    Lynn April 3rd, 2009 5:06 pm ET

    Just another phoney "religious" fanatic who spews hate, intolerance and division
    -------------–

    Are you serious??

    April 3, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  7. ami

    fair enough, if we in NoVA aren't part of "real Virginia" and are sucking tax money from the rest of the state, then perhaps we should leave.... we'd finally be free to set our own taxes to fix our traffic problems; good luck with funding your schools and infrastructure!

    April 3, 2009 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  8. skip

    Didn't that sink McCain and Palin playing one America against another? You think they (GOP) would have learn their lesson. They need stop trying to divide us and bring us together.

    April 3, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Sandy

    Huckabee is wrong, and his comments about "not letting people out of their driveways" were also wrong. The Republicans continue to act like the Three Stooges, their party has really imploded.

    April 3, 2009 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  10. Mississippi Mike

    I lived in Northern Virginia and I can tell you, they are in their own world. Let's hope they keep their over-priced, whiny-baby world to themselves because it's not a pleasant place to be.

    April 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  11. Get Real.

    The problem is that Huck isn't talking about the real differences through out VA – or any state.... he's saying that some people are "real Virginians" as opposed to those who live closer to the capitol.

    All Americans are "real" ... and Huck isn't close enough to God to be the one making the decision.

    April 3, 2009 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  12. Reg

    This dude with all that gop money should have better teeth!
    Oh and of course better sense than he does now! The Earth
    is 6,000 yrs old according to Huckabee can I get a Amen for
    the Moron!

    April 3, 2009 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  13. Rob in Detroit Mi.

    Huckabee's claim to vfame is what ? he won a few states in the Republican Primary,no he upset mitt romney in a few states. that's it.

    will someone in the Republican party tell this man to go-away.

    April 3, 2009 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  14. Ken

    Americans woke up figured out the "divide and conquer" thing and they showed, in the presidential election, that they won't be suckers for that garbage any more. Good Luck Huck – it didn't work then. It won't work now!

    April 3, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  15. yuri

    GOP gaffers, generally and generously, giraffe into a gargantuan set of goofers and Huckabee is generatin' exactly that sort of gibes that are degeneratin' into gibberish gob. They (the Repubs.) just can't make intelligent insinuations, and we are driven to dizzy and dazzlin' departure from decency.

    Mike!-you are a religious and pious man, we reckon, and do not
    mess-up that impression by your inane intonations about inner city inhabitants. Try to say something sane and sensible so it seizes somebody's senses with splendidly speculatin' speed. Talk something intelligent and perhaps patronizin', a little bit. You know how to do that. You take to those kinds of smart and speechworthy sayings like a duck takes to water.

    April 3, 2009 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  16. Bill in Virginia

    "Mike Huckabee [told] an audience in Appalachia that voters in northern Virginia 'aren't necessarily thinking the same way folks like you and me think.'"

    As a Northern Virginian, I proudly agree.

    April 3, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. Jimmy in Southwestern Virginia

    Mike is correct. I live in Dickenson County, Virginia and it is about an hour south of Tazewell. Life here is more rural and agriculture than the service sectors in the northern and eastern portions of the state. Coal mining, natural gas extraction, timber, prisons, and call centers are the main employers of the area. We are often called the derogatory term “hillbilly” which to me is just as offensive as the N word to African Americans.

    When I travel to Richmond, Fairfax, or the Tidewater area I often have people that do not know our part of the state exists. Our roads, hospitals, and schools are definitely different in rural southwest Virginia as compared to other parts of the state.

    Mike’s comments I think refer to our labor intensive and socio-economic background of our area. In northern Virginia as I have said is mainly service sector that is less labor intensive.

    April 3, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    Transparent. It's just more divide and conquer politics from a GOPer. "Hate the people over there because they're different and then vote for me!"

    April 3, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  19. rodney

    GO HUCK GO,,,, You got them squirming and overflowing with hate comments..
    MUUUHHHAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa :D)

    April 3, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  20. Angela

    I lived in Virginia for years. He sopeaks the truth....it is not plotically correct, but it is the truth.

    April 3, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  21. Zach Norris

    Come on now people. Did any of you read what he actually said, or did you just read what the article says he said? He said:

    "Some folks up there near the Beltway," he claimed, "have never fully understood how hard it is for a lot of people to put a paycheck together, be able to feed a family."

    He's not labeling the people of Northern Virginia. What he's talking about elitist politicians who don't know what the average Virginian is going through. That's what he's always talking about when he mentions "the Beltway". Have you guys not been paying attention for the past couple of years?

    And to those who are asking whether or not the Governor has ever had to wonder whether or not he could feed his family, he has. In fact, he had to work 2-3 jobs to put himself through college and pay for his wife's medical bills.

    April 3, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  22. Fred the Moderate

    You know, someday the GOP will grow-up and out of this type of thing. I have heard and watched the GOP's us vs them instead of we are all in this as a single nation for years. It's troubling to see them loose elections, one after the other but not wake-up to the reality that the new voting generation dosen't care for devisive people. They generally like each other. Hate based on economic status (by the way there's alot of beltway families trying to make ends meet too), social class, color, ethnicity and anything else they try to classify as not real America only divides us at a critical time in history when we need to be working together.

    Until they learn this, they will continue to contrac until a second conservative party evolves. It's happened before and will again!

    April 3, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  23. Sean

    Being someone that lives in Virginia and has lived in Northern Virginia, now currently in Roanoke (the "capital" of Southwest Virginia), and visited extreme Southwest Virginia, I can agree with what Huckabee is saying. Northern Virginia is unlike any other part of the state. And with the huge population up there now, sadly, they tend to dictate the rest of the state. A good many of the people up there don't know what it means to be a Virginian, as many of them are transplants. If it wasn't for Roanoke, Salem, and the Christansburg/Blacksburg areas, this part of the state would be forgotten and ignored. Thankfully, Senator Warner while Governor never did. It's a shame that Gov. Kaine has. But Huckabee is correct. For the record, I'm a McAuliffe supporter and commend him for not jumping on the bandwagon but making his own points!

    April 3, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  24. Chris Lacks

    Easy now and everyone just calm down!!.... You all seem angry and tense like you are ready to give somebody a beat down. Do you think you all are upset because of few comments taken out of context and delivered with humor by Mr Huckabee??..............Or....... does the anger come because deep down your scared,worried, and disappointed that your Choosen One has increased spending with nothing to show but an almost 9% unemployment rate and major dept piled higher than the Appalachia Mountains? And don't forget that these people are trying to use the angry meter for political gain. Now go and vote on principal. Finally, it is my hope that many of you do take the time to give Mr. Huckabee a second look, I want even be surprised when some of you have a change of heart regarding Huckabee's character when all is said and done.

    April 3, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  25. rap

    If Huckabee had said "Black voters aren't necessarily thinking the same way folks like you and me think," would this be okay with the people defending his remarks? There is a big difference between saying "they are different from you" and saying "they are different from us." Huckabee is making a value judgement against one group of people that he wants to single out, not an objective observation that different groups are different.

    April 3, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
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