(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 brother – now I've heard it all! Chicago-style politics – the fix is in!
YES he SHUNNED President Obama and I have slammed DEEDS in the past on certain quotes he was stating and I stated he needs to WHOA and back up and look at the BROADER PICTURE – but he did not and if he LOSE – that would be the reason.
I – among many others – feel the same way. It is taking a lot out of me to get people stimulated!!! I will vote but I will also DRAG MYSELF there!!!.
"Republicans' ability to come back in the Obama era,"
Did they say that during the Carter era?
It was one election cycle. Obama only won by 52% against a weak RINO. I wouldn't call it an era....more like an error.
That's it POTUS, golf, pose for more pictures and stump while our service people are DYING
As an attorney you know for a FACT there is already court decisions which will be used to make sure illegal immigrants will get the same health care.
If you would bother to READ the Constitution you swore to protect, you would be aware your health care plan is a clear violation of the 11th Ammendment
You are fast becoming a "clear and present danger" to our country
Maybe in 2012, this Country can elect a President that wants to pay attention to Governing instead his first priority being Campaigning.
What a slimeball obama is I cant believe educated people actually voted for this guy. Get the hell out of VA. We will never make this mistake again.
Would someone please tell our President that it is time to stop campaigning and time to start governing. I know he is most comfortable in campaign mode but that is not what he was elected for.
Has he ever gotten off the campaign trail?
I would think right now he is hurting the candidates.
This guy has never met a microphone he didn't like.
This guy needs to get to work and stop spending our tax dollars on his travel. Obama, your not a rock star your a president so start acting like one.
Well that is the only thing he's good at.
Obama on the campaign trail...shocker.
Does this man not know that he doesn't have to campaign anymore? It is becoming increasingly apparent that Obama is a sham president who is losing credibility by the day.
He needs to tend to business and stop worrying about these state elections, where he has no business sticking his nose. He is coming again to New Jersey this Sunday and it isn't going to help - Christie is going to beat Corzine. And Deeds has less of a chance in Virginia. Once the Dems lose the governorship in these two states, it will shatter the Obama myth even more.
I am sure the buyer's regret for the 66 million people he fooled last year is starting to sink in as well.
The great campaigner in chief at it again. Who knew this is all Obama is capable of doing........campaigning. Flying around on his tax payer provided jet, polluting the environment he claims to care so deeply about, while our soldiers are dying in Afghanistan, the economy is in the toilet and unemployment is out of control.........the country is bankrupt and this mans top priority is still campaigning.
I guess it's better than hanging around Washington to play golf or basketball.
Geez, where else would this man be..........................in the white house working? Nah, that would be crazy, if Obama worked in the real world he would have been fired by now.
Stop campaigning and just be the President. It's wrong for any sitting President to campaign on our tax dollars.
Obama = perpetual campaigner
It's the only thing the guy is competent doing.
As much as you liberals praise him, I would hope that some of you have the courage to admit that Obama should stop campaigning and at least attempt to be a leader. It is a simple request that I believe all Americans should make of their president. There is no need to get angry at those who suggest he get back to work or to balme Bush for Obama's campaigning. This is on Obama's shoulders. He knows he has a reponsibility to make a decision on Afganistan, whether it's withdrawl or a surge, he should make the call before more American soldiers die. Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, we must demand more of the office than campaigning on behalf of someone in Virginia every two days. Whether you like it or not – this is the same old Washington politics as usual. You've been duped.
Maybe instead of posting these daily "Back on the trail..." articles, you could wait until he's back at work or "Back at the White House" and post that. That would be real news.
"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."
Actually – your job description is to convey exactly that type of information. You are the spokesperson for the White House.
McDonnell is charismatic, and Deeds isn't. That's all the independents care about.
I am so sick of the repuks. I know they are going to jump all over this saying such nonsense as "he sould be doing his job instead of campaigning all the time," "he sould be doing his job instead of playing golf all the time," "he should be doing his job instead of trying to get the Olympics," "he should be focused on the war instead of dethering." I am so sick. Leave him alone and stop pushing him for results. He is OUR president and is more of a man than any repuk.
Get to work already!