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. Mike

    I grew up and lived for 18 years in Arlington Va, and then lived for 7 years in Blacksburg in Southwest VA. I can tell you that, yes, of course there are regional differences. But Virginia needs a governor that is for ALL of Virginia, one that can unite and help all parts of the state. The party that tries to divide and pit region against region like this is NOT the answer!

    April 3, 2009 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    Here we go again. The same old divide and conquer. The republicans should come up with some new ideas. I did not realize that their thinking was so bankrupt. It is not the different thinking. That is a given when the issues impact us in different ways. Mr. Huckabee, talk about the issues and relate them to the people's lives.

    George Bush gave many wanabees the thought that they too could be President. "After all", they argued, "if George the bramble bush could do it we can too". We are not going back. Indeed we cannot go back. The issues are too complex and international for us to elect those who are so narrow minded and insular in their thinking.

    Give it up Huckabee. Your time has passed.

    April 3, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. Hopeful Optimist

    If you had to take all the traits, characteristics and idiosynchrosies of modernday Conservative Republicans and roll them into one personality you'd have Frank Burns on 'Mash'. That pretty much says it all.

    April 3, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. Ijaz from VA

    I am a native Virginia and a business owner in the so called Nortrhern Virginia area. Huckabee's comments are deplorable and Mr. McConnell should denounce them. We in NOVA do understand Mike. Would you like to hear how I have had to downsize my business by half in the last two years. Would you like to hear how I have had to not pay myself for weeks so that my employees can deposit their checks and take care of their families. Would you like to hear how I have had to withhold paychecks an extra week because we didn't have enough money to cover payroll. Despite all that, I continue to pay my employees healtcare premiums. Would yuo like to know how I called my landlord, my creditors, my suppliers to try to rework the terms so I could stay afloat. So Mike, us Northern Virginians do understand and we sympathize and empathize with our fellow brothren from the southern and western part of the state. Please stop the divisive tactics and start acting like a statesman if you want our vote in the future.

    April 3, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  5. Donna from Colorado Springs

    This is just another example of Republican arrogance! They think that they are better than everybody else and shouldn't lower themselves by helping their fellow citizens. All they want to do is divide the country into haves and have nots, and they've always been that way. To them, they are the superior group of people that should run everything. Sound familiar?

    April 3, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  6. The Broker.

    There is such a thing, as a European Market. With access to the World. You should read their program. You? America. Your just a Corner Store.

    April 3, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  7. Edison

    For some reason Mike Huckabee seems to think he's royalty.

    April 3, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  8. Ed

    Born and raised in Alexandria. I am thankful and glad I don't think like the insular folks in SW Virginia. The world is a big fascinating place and I am grateful I had an opportunity to be exposed to different people and ideas in Alexandria.

    April 3, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  9. Mike Huckabee keep on campaigning

    you are doing such a good job for the democrats, I think you should broaden your stops/audience to the whole U.S.

    share your wisdom

    April 3, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  10. KR

    I am a disabled nurse and I was born and raised in West Virginia and my mother lived in Virginia. I know what hard times are, not able to eat or know what was going to happen. I still would not vote for a republican; they are for the rich and care nothing about the poor or middle class. You an believe it if you want to and if you don't then don't.

    April 3, 2009 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  11. Linda

    Those democrats don't know what to make of a politician who speaks the TRUTH! Huckabee has got them scared to death because his HUCKPAC has already helped Jim Tedisco in NY and they KNOW that Huckabee is a man of principle, conviction, integrity AND he has the BEST answers for this country. This article just "fires me up to make calls into Va. for McDonnell. Thanks for the motivation!!!!!

    April 3, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. Dennis

    Appalachia and Northern Virginia are very different with vastly different values and concerns

    April 3, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  13. Kay

    I wonder whose target Mike Huckabee is over to get such "special attention" from the democrats. Guess they have realized he is the man Obama is going to have to beat in 2012 and it won't happen. Huckabee 2012!!! Great to hear someone speak the truth.

    April 3, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  14. Cletus

    Democrat politicians from NY City often will proudly attack the Upstate NY area as being full of backwater hicks and hayseeds. They never apologize.

    Barack Obama was caught on tape attacking the western part of Pennsylvania as being full of bitter people who cling to guns and dislike anybody different from theselves. He issued a very weak non-apology "I'm sorry if anybody misinterpreted my remarks."

    Why is it any worse to criticise northern Virginia?

    April 3, 2009 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  15. Cletus

    If he wanted to avoid all criticism, Huckabee should have appeared on the Tonight Show and said norhtern Virginia voters remind him of the "Special Olympics or something".

    Clearly, the media feel there's nothing wrong with saying that.

    April 3, 2009 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  16. CA Senior

    There may be truth to what Huckabee is saying, but it is rather elitist.

    April 3, 2009 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  17. Deb in Colorado

    Here we go again – it's "real" Americans against everyone else. Well, I am a bleeding heart liberal and I am as real an American any "down home" Huckabee follower on the planet. When are the Republicans going to learn that their divisiveness is one of the resons they lost the election. I have voted Rebublican in the past, but as long as they behave this way, it won't happen again.

    April 3, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  18. Laurie

    We have something in NVA that they dont have in the rest of the state...VOTERS!

    April 3, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  19. Sean

    I'm really nearing the end of my rope with this kind of idiotic mentality. Different people all over the country have different opinions on every subject. So what? Grow the hell up and accept that not everyone will walk in complete lockstep with your narrow, egotistical, exclusionary view of how things should be.

    April 3, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  20. Huck is right

    Mike Huckabee is right. Northern Virginia is filled with highly educated, and in some cases, affluent taxpayers. The Appalachian region, not so much.

    April 3, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  21. Marge

    Gee so that little concave of republicans in southern Virginia that have grown up listening to the hate preached by Farwell think all of Virginia should cowtow to what they think.

    There are a lot of rural areas in this country that don't think they are the ones that should count above all.

    Virginia has more people in it then them and if they want to think one way and be republican OK but don't expect the whole state to agree with them, because most of the state DON'T.

    April 3, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  22. SD,Michigan

    I got. People in North Virginia have an easier time to bring home paychecks and feed their families. Is that supposed to be a bad thing, Huck? Are they doing smth wrong? Stop throwing mindless insults and dividing people withing their own state.

    April 3, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  23. GOP Victim

    Mike needs to shut up and go back to Arkansas. He is a member of the party who only cares about the rich and big business. Any working class person who is a Republican is stupid and believes the lies they have told them. Also the fact that christians cling to the GOP is a mistery to me becuase the GOP only cares about the rich which is not christian by any means..

    April 3, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    "Huckabee" and "thinking" in the same sentence. How odd.

    April 3, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  25. the man

    when people try to divide, how can they run for pres. of the usa!

    April 3, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
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