September 10th, 2008
03:42 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama working to make Virginia blue

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama is campaigning in Virginia."]

NORFOLK, Virginia (CNN) – The lipstick flap dominated national coverage of Barack Obama’s trip to Virginia, a state trending blue but so far out of reach for Democratic presidential hopefuls. It is no secret the Obama campaign is working this state hard and hoping for an upset this fall.

Obama visited Norfolk Tuesday, an area dominated by the military, to talk education reform. Monday he made his second visit since the primary season ended to southwestern Virginia, a rural slice of the state that went heavily for President Bush in 2004 and where Obama needs to improve his margins to win the state.

Watch: Michelle Obama works to court working women

“Senator Obama is a friend of coal, a friend of this region,” said Congressman Rick Boucher, a southwest Democrat whose district includes the town of Lebanon where Obama spoke.

The discussion of coal is key in reaching out to this group of voters, many of whom work or did work in the industry. From the talk of coal to the Willie Nelson tunes used to warm up the crowd, it is obvious camp Obama is trying to make up for Democrats’ past mistakes when it comes to relating to more conservative voters in more traditional regions. Obama’s comment to a San Francisco fundraiser earlier this year about voters in these areas “clinging” to guns and religion has resurfaced recently as a Republican talking point.

“There are a lot of folks who come up to me and they say, ‘you know Barack, I like your economic plan and I’m tired of George W Bush, or I got my NRA mailing and I’m worried you’re going to take my gun away,’” Obama told the packed gym at Lebanon High School. “I just want to be absolutely clear … I believe in people’s lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun way. I will not take your rifle away. I won’t take your handgun away.”

“He has a darn good chance of winning Virginia,” said Lebanon resident Ray Fogg. Fogg said his town, which sits in Russell County, was “more for Hillary” in the primaries but with consistent concerns about the economy and health care, this long-time union member said “the people in this area are going to vote D.”

Others are not so sure. Helen Fields, an undecided Democrat came away from Monday’s town hall “impressed” Obama had discussed health care and the economy at length, two issues very important to her. But she said the addition of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the McCain ticket has prompted her to give the Republicans a “second look” this fall.

“I will probably follow it till the last minute,” Fields said.

So far the Obama campaign has 41 offices around Virginia – offices that state Communications Director Kevin Griffis said act as “platforms” for volunteers to organize and engage in the neighbor-to-neighbor voter contact the campaign feels has served them well in places like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Griffis said people in southwestern Virginia do not know Obama as well and only personal contact can overcome hurdles, like questions about the candidate’s faith, in this region.

“It makes a big difference when you go down there and spend a little time,” Griffis said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (289 Responses)
  1. foxglove

    When you look at the candidates backgrounds anyone with an ounce of gray matter should be able to tell that Obama/Biden offer the best solutions to this country's many propblems.

    The job of President is demanding. An almost 73 year old person is too old. I know I am that age and in better health than Mr. McCain. But when you are that age you are not as sharp. We need a LEADER to get this country on track. Give your kids and grand kids a brake. Put someone in the White House who will fix the economy, healthcare, schools.

    Vote Smart & Intelligent.

    September 10, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  2. inuk of the north

    Nobody should fear Obama's policies.

    Apparently he's in favor of gun rights AND gun control.

    He's in favor of higher taxes AND lower taxes.

    He's wants troop withdrawal right now AND he wants to take his time with troop withdrawal.

    He's against NAFTA AND told the Canadians he for NAFTA.

    He knows where Bin Laden is hiding AND he doesn't know where he's hiding.

    He's in favor of public education AND sends his kids to private school.

    He wants socialized medicine AND he wants private medicine.

    He's against drilling AND he's in favor of drilling.

    He's against illegal immigration AND he's for legalizing the illegals

    Can somebody, anybody, tell me where this guy stands? On any issue? Two days in a row?

    September 10, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. Hope

    Obama/Biden 08

    September 10, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Remember the bad tailor

    Does anyone remember the square patch Bush had on his back during the debates 4 years ago, with John Kerry? I think I would be watching to see if Sarah Palin has the same tailor during the next debates and interviews. I would be totally shocked if she doesn't. I still can't believe that the republicans fell for that one.

    September 10, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. realistic

    Good luck with that one Senator Obama. Your poll numbers will continue to decline as we go into the final moments of this dreaded election cycle.

    September 10, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Dee

    VA is definitely blue. My mom who has voted Republican all her life is planning to vote for Obama. If she can vote for Obama- I wonder- VA got to be Blue.

    September 10, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. Sue

    You Obamaniacs are simply ridiculous. Get over it, he's not going to be president.

    September 10, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  8. nitro

    I tried to post acomment yesterday before anyone did and it got deleted and would not allow a post to that article. Well here I go again. Its pathetic how the McCain campaign keeps patraying Gov. Palin as this baracuda, hockey mom, maverick, but she seems not to be able to handle the media. Everytime someone says something about her its put out as if they are taking a swipe at women. Well women you can sit back and allow this to happen and all you will get for your efforts is to set women back a hundred years. No one is disputing the fact that Gov. Palin has experience in politic but are disputing the reason behind choosing her. I could name a number of female senators that has 3 times the experience but was overlooked. Had Senator Obama choose Senator Clinton McCain never in a million years selected Gov. Palin. We all know that we as a nation is sympathetic to the worlds problems, so all the McCain campaign has to do is cry wolf and everyone will be saying poor Sarah Palin. They are counting that to happen. Thats the only way that they can get women that voted for Senator Clinton to vote for them or even republican women that are fed up with the way things are. America dont be fooled by this wolf thats now crying about change when he wasnt for the last 12 months. If you are a maverick or a christian my father told me you dont have to tell everybody, if you are they will know. The bible says you will know the tree by the fruit it bares. I have yet see a tree that bares a rat and thats what I smell.

    September 10, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  9. redneck for obama

    c'mon virginia! i'm a redneck for obama member! it's ok! obama is for real! be smarter than those who feed you falsehoods. you have an independent mind. use it. the state of virginia has been a rare beacon of success in the last few years. not because of bush or mccain, but, because of your governor. if he trusts obama ,then i trust obama. you can too, if you just let go of the old hate and division of the past. it's been a new century for 8 years, now, and we've made little progress as a nation, and are falling behind. this is inexcusable with the technological we are verging on. vote for our future!

    obama '08

    September 10, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Nick - Arlington, VA

    I'm here fighting for you Barack!!!

    September 10, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  11. Joe in StL

    Obama is out there WORKING to get his message out to a wide swath of people all over the country. When people SEE him and HEAR what he proposes on the issues, more and more will support him.

    It is unfortunate that he has to respond to fake outrage from the Republicans, and the media's obsession with "slams" that are distracting from what people really want to know.

    Obama is the candidate that is trying to talk to you about your problems. This is not a "both sides are doing it" kind of thing. Dems only have mud on them because the Reps are flinging it.

    September 10, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  12. HRC

    NoWay, NoHow, NoObama!!

    September 10, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  13. EAM

    but he will take a nice portion of the NATIONAL gross and give it to third world countries when america needs it more, country first DUMBAMA. but guess he doesn't care about that. thats why he's trying to push the GLOBAL POVERTY ACT. to feed other countries and let ours starve.

    September 10, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  14. republicans hate america

    Just confirms how the GOP hate America by willing to vote for a VP candidate that wants to separate Alaska from the U.S. and then have the nerve to say Obama doesn't wear a flag pin. I dont care if I end up being the only one to vote for Obama but I refuse to accept you rednecks as Americans

    September 10, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
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