(CNN) – Amid some controversy, President Barack Obama returns to the campaign trail Tuesday afternoon in Virginia to lend a helping hand to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.
The president teams up with Deeds at a rally in Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. The event comes just hours after the release of a new poll that suggests Deeds trails his Republican rival Bob McDonnell by double digits, with a week to go until election day.
The rally also comes just a few days after negative quotes about Deeds from anonymous Obama administration officials appeared Friday in the Washington Post. Unnamed administration officials told the paper that if Deeds loses, it will be his own fault for shunning White House advice and not doing enough to embrace Obama on the campaign trail.
Asked Monday if the White House has been happy with the Deeds campaign, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "that's not for me to pass judgment on."
A well-known Democratic strategist in Virginia, David "Mudcat" Saunders, blasted the White House for placing anonymous quotes in the Washington Post. Saunders told CNN Friday that trying to blame Deeds is "bulls**t" when Democrats around the country are "just tired of politics."
According to a Washington Post poll released Monday night, 55 percent of likely Virginia voters say they back McDonnell, the state's former attorney general, with 44 percent supporting Deeds, a state senator from the rural western part of the state. McDonnell's 11-point advantage is up from an 9-point margin last month.
The survey indicates that McDonnell holds double-digit advantages on such issues at the economy, taxes, and transportation - and now leads Deeds for the first time in this campaign on issues of special concern to women.
According to the poll, McDonnell leads among independent voters 61 percent to 36 percent. Deeds is ahead by 7 points in northern Virginia, a stronghold for Democrats, but the poll suggests he trails in every other region across the state.
The president's appearance with Deeds Tuesday will be the second time Obama has teamed up with his fellow Democrat. But seven in 10 people questioned say the president won't be a factor in their vote. Only three in 10 say their perceptions of Obama will influence their vote.
Last November, Obama became the first Democrat to win Virginia in a presidential election in 40 years, thanks in part to an outpouring of excitement among younger voters and minority voters. But the poll suggests Deeds hasn't been able excite supporters this time around, with just 22 percent of his backers saying they are very enthusiastic about his candidacy. Nearly four in 10 McDonnell supporters say they are very enthusiastic.
The race is to succeed current Gov. Tim Kaine, who's term limited and prevented from running for re-election. Kaine, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, acknowledged Friday a "challenging" environment for Democrats in his home state but held out hope that his party's gubernatorial nominee could still rally the voters who helped President Obama win Virginia last November. Kaine also downplayed the anonymous quotes from administration officials in the Washington Post.
While the contest in Virginia focuses on state issues and the two candidates themselves, it's also seen by some as an early ballot box test, or referendum, on the Obama White House and the policies they're pushing.
"The race in Virginia is partially about the broad national environment, how the two political parties are doing, and how the president is doing," said Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report.
McDonnell's campaign appears to be trying to nationalize the contest, by linking Deeds to the Democrats who control the White House and Congress. A McDonnell television ad says "Creigh Deeds supports Washington's job killing policies."
"I have made the national issues an issue in this race," McDonnell told CNN's Jessica Yellin.
At a debate last month, Deeds was asked by the moderator if he was a Barack Obama Democrat.
"I would try to escape that by saying I'm a Creigh Deeds Democrat," responded Deeds, who also acknowledges that "a lot of what's going on in Washington has made it very tough."
If they win back the governor's office, "the Republicans could now show they are alive and well and they are competitive in Virginia, but it also sends a national message about the Republicans' ability to come back in the Obama era," says Mark Rozell, a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Virginia.
CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report
Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter @psteinhausercnn
Oh man. This guy is so over exposed.
Thank you, Mr. President, and go Deeds!
It is unconscionable how anyone could still support the antiquated views of McDonnell and his written chauvinism against decent women and others who do not conform to his narrow-minded fundamentalism.
Then, McDonnell has someone within his campaign make fun of the disabled, and instead of respectfully asking the person to resign, he makes them a spokesperson for his political ads. Reprehensibly, that should be McDonnell's deplorable "George Allen maca..." moment (ad nauseum).
By comparison of the two candidates, no one is perfect, but the moderate Deeds is a better choice for VA governor hands down.
I hope the women of Virginia wake up and pay attention here to these men who will have a major impact on their lives.
Barack Obama is a great president. I hope he gets elected for a
second term. He is everything Bush wasn't. You know. a real human being. He thinks situations out before he blindly leaps into them.
Thats why europe likes Obama, because he is smart unlike the stupid Bush. Smart people are easier to work with.
I am afraid it's too late for Deeds.
The One likes campaigning better than he likes governing.
Probably because he's much better at the former than the latter.
Obama isn't waiting for the Afghanistan election to make up his mind on whether or not to send troops... He's waiting until elections here are done. I mean, campaigning for Democrats is obviously higher on the priority list than actually being Commander-in-Chief and listening to your military leaders.
Instead of campaigning, Obama should be working on the real problems of this country. Enough of the "good ole boys" politics. Get down to business. There are millions of people unemployed across this country and not one thing is being done about it in Washington.
We've got a "do nothing" Congress and a "do nothing" President!
8 of or couragous brothers and sisters lost their lives today due to a lack of troops. Where is obama? This just proves that obama, who is a muslim lover, is on their side. obama rejoices when american troops die. This is treason and he needs to be treated as so. A rope and a tree will do! god bless the republic!
I think the people BO is campaigning for need to reimburse the people for the total cost of his appearance. This isn't just about Obama, the same goes for any President or VP appearance or any appearance where the public somehow foots a portion of the bill.
WOW! This man cannot take a hint from the people wanting him to get to work instead of campaigning all the time. Time for impeachment! Of course then that would give us Biden, man what a rocky road America is in for and you that are still blaming Bush and Cheney, get over it, they are not in office anymore for almost a year now, just in case you didn't know. Yea, they didn't do right on a lot of things, but hey they were a lot better than what we have now.
I voted for mr Obama so he could change things – not so he could run around the country campaigning for folks. This is disheartening. Many of my friends have been hammering for months telling me Obama is a campaigner but not a leader...and this hurts.
I want Gitmo closed as promised
I want our troops out of Iraq as psomised
I want to get out of Afghanistan
And I want a transparent process on health care reform – right now Mr Reid and Mrs Pelosi are hiding somewhere in the Capitol Building writing health care reform, and that is not what Mr Obama promised me. he said we could watch all the deliberations on CSPAN.
Please, Mr President, do not succumb to the evils of Washington DC – do what you promised us you would do
Yep...obama is nothing more than a typical Chicago community organizer, not the presidential leader this country really needs, 2012 can't come soon enough.
It a Dem-eat-Dem world out there.
Look at his face.."I am fooling you again folks".
Well, that's what he does best.
Problem is the governing thing.
Obama has nothing better to do than shore up his buddy list.,and waste taxpayer time and money on the campaign trail??.With our troops taking a beating in Iraq and Afghanistan,The working people being screwed into the ground from every side,the private sector economy in shambles,families losing their homes in foreclosure,and taxes, through no fault of their own,government corruption rampant in his administration,and others,the list goes on.All he can say is" the last 8 years"The last 9 months has already run over and beyond the last 8 years and the worst of Obama's idiosy is yet to come.He has not done a productive thing to further the American way of life.As far as hope the only hope the average American has now is that we will have two pennies to rub together whe they are done with us.It is time for a rise of third parties.There is a lot to be said for free market politics.I am tired of a biopoly of choice at the polls.It is also time for the medias to stop slobbering over these idiots as if they are family ,and do the reporting they should be doing and call these people to the table for what they are!