Washington (CNN) – Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele isn't predicting victory yet in the Virginia and New Jersey governor's races, but in Virginia - a race Republicans look poised to win - he sees a "blueprint" for GOP success in 2010.
"You dont win until the last vote is counted," Steele told CNN by phone during a campaign swing in southern Virginia with Republican candidate Bob McDonnell. "We failed in the past by assuming too much. The only thing I am assuming is there is much more to do."
Steele said that while Virginia and New Jersey are very different states requiring different "messaging styles," the gubernatorial races have provided the RNC with a way to "test the waters" before next year's midterm elections. He said the party has been trying out new strategies in both races "in terms of resources we put on the ground, in providing ground support or air support, on the Internet, on television, phones, things like that."
As McDonnell has surged to a lead in Virginia polls over his Democratic rival Creigh Deeds, national Republicans have described his campaign - in which he focused on job creation and downplayed his conservative positions on social issues - as a blueprint for future GOP victories. Asked what specifically in McDonnell's approach represents a way forward for the party, Steele praised the Republican for focusing on issues relevant to middle-class voters while staying true to conservative economic principles.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – With their final mailing of the Virginia governor's race, Democrats are hoping President Obama can motivate his 2008 supporters to show up once again for Creigh Deeds next Tuesday.
The Democratic Party of Virginia sent a mail piece Thursday to 330,000 "surge voters" - the Democrats who voted for the first time in 2008 and helped propel Obama to victory in the Commonwealth.
"Last year you joined with over 600,000 Virginians who registered and voted for the first time in their lives," reads the one-page letter, titled "A special message from President Barack Obama." "Your message was clear, your voice was heard and today we're beginning to see the fruits of that labor."
"To make real changes in this country, it will take more than just my presidency - it requires your continued vigilance in the cause of progress," the note continues.
The president goes on to ask voters to make time to go to the polls on November 3 and cast their ballots for Deeds, "the partner I need in Virginia."
Obama appeared with Deeds earlier this week in Norfolk in an effort to rally Democrats who have been less-than enthusiastic about the governor's race. Deeds is trailing Republican Bob McDonnell in the polls.
(CNN) - With only five days until Election Day, Virginia is has become ground zero for the political glitterati.
First, President Obama paid a visit to the state Tuesday on behalf of Democrat Creigh Deeds. The two held a rally at Old Dominion University in Norfolk.
Now Republican Bob McDonnell is bringing in the GOP star power: Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is campaigning for the former state attorney general in Democratic-leaning Fairfax County, while former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney will join McDonnell for events in Virginia Beach, Roanoke, and Richmond.
(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."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A new poll indicates that Republican Bob McDonnell holds a double-digit lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in Virginia's gubernatorial battle.
The release of the Washington Post poll Monday evening comes eight days before voters in Virginia head to the polls, and it comes on the eve of a campaign stop by President Barack Obama, who teams up with Deeds at a rally in Norfolk Tuesday.
Fifty-five percent of likely Virginia voters questioned in the survey say they back McDonnell, the state's former attorney general, with 44 percent supporting Deeds, a state senator from the western part of the state. McDonnell's 11-point advantage is up from an 9-point margin last month.
The poll 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.
Washington (CNN) – Even though President Obama is not on the ballot this November, he and the Democrats who control Congress have a lot on the line.
Among the many contests being voted on in a little more than week, two statewide battles for governor are grabbing a lot of national attention.
The president heads back on the campaign trail in Virginia on Tuesday, not for himself but for fellow Democrat gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds. Recent polls suggest Deeds, a state senator from the rural western part of Virginia, trails his Republican opponent, former Virginia attorney general Bob McDonnell.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – A well-known Democratic strategist in Virginia is blasting the White House for placing anonymous quotes in the Washington Post in a pre-emptive effort to blame Creigh Deeds for what might be a loss in the state's upcoming gubernatorial election.
David "Mudcat" Saunders, who gained political fame helping Democrat Mark Warner reach out to rural voters during Warner's successful 2001 gubernatorial bid, told CNN Friday that trying to blame Deeds is "bulls**t" when Democrats around the country are "just tired of politics."
"The Democrats right now are a real bruised brand right now where I am," Saunders said in a phone interview from his home near Roanoke. "There was so much energy put into last year's race, everybody's just burned out. You can't get anybody fired up."
In a story published Friday, a senior administration official told the Post that the Deeds campaign ignored their advice to embrace the president, which the official claimed would have boosted the Democratic candidate's lackluster support among the African-Americans and young voters who supported Obama in 2008.
Kaine also downplayed anonymous quotes from administration officials about Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds that 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 President Obama on the campaign trail.
"I tend not to comment on the comments of unnamed sources," Kaine told CNN in a phone interview from Atlanta, where he was meeting with party activists. "We still have more work to do and it's challenging, but I know the president is very interested in the race. The president has been very solicitous."
Kaine said the president, whom he last spoke to about the race on Tuesday night, is "very excited" to make his second appearance for Deeds next week in Norfolk. The Virginia governor, a confidante of Obama since the early day's of his presidential campaign, said he talks to the president "a good bit" about the campaign but said he talks to Deeds more often, "every day, or every other day."
The DNC chair said Deeds' path to victory is clear: "Energizing the president's supporters, energizing those who approve of how Democrats are govering Virginia." Asked if Deeds has done a good enough job doing so in his race against Republican Bob McDonnell, Kaine said Deeds "is working hard to do so" but admitted that Democrats in the state aren't as excited for this election as they were one year ago.
"It is the case that last year was a catharsis for our side," he said. "It was that way nationally and in Virginia. I do think people are seeing stark differences between the two tickets. They are waking up a little late, but they're definitely waking up."
The location of the event in southeast Virginia, a heavily African-American part of the state, signals that Deeds advisers hope the president can boost turnout among supporters who rallied to his side in 2008 but have been largely disinterested in the governor's race so far.
The rally will take place on Tuesday at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, the second largest city in the commonwealth and home to the world's largest naval station. Almost half of Norfolk's residents are African-American; Obama trounced John McCain by a 71-28 margin there last November. During the Democratic gubernatorial primary earlier this year, all three of the men seeking their party's nomination targeted black voters with radio ads and endorsement from key leaders in the community.
But Norfolk in just one of several population centers in Hampton Roads, a broad swath of cities and counties in southeastern Virginia where military voters are also a key part of the electorate. Over the weekend, Republican candidate Bob McDonnell held a veterans rally in nearby Virginia Beach with McCain.
The president first campaigned for Deeds in August in northern Virginia.
(CNN) - With just under two weeks until voters head to the polls in Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds is playing up his support from President Obama.
Deeds is launching a new ad Thursday featuring Obama at a recent campaign rally urging voters to step up their get out the vote efforts.
"Last year, Virginia, you helped lead a movement of Americans who believed that their voices could make a difference," Obama is seen telling an energized crowd in the new 30-second spot. "That's what we need to do in this race."
The ad also comes five days before Obama is set to return to the Virginia campaign trail on behalf of Deeds, a former state senator. While the race between Deeds and former Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell has been a close one, recent polls suggest McDonnell now has a nearly 10-point advantage over Deeds.
Obama won Virginia by 6 points last fall, and currently holds a 53 percent approval rating in the state, according to a recent Washington Post poll.