October 18th, 2008
06:42 PM ET
14 years ago

McCain aide defines 'real Virginia'


McCain campaigned in northern Virginia Saturday. (AP PHOTO)

(CNN) - Hours before John McCain took the stage in the northern Virginia suburb of Woodbridge – his second visit to the battleground state in less than a week – campaign surrogate Nancy Pfotenhauer told an interviewer that voters in that part of the state did not represent the ‘real’ Virginia.

“I certainly agree that northern Virginia has gone more Democratic. And as a proud resident of Oakton, Virginia I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia. And that’s really what you see there. But the rest of the state, ‘real’ Virginia if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message.”

Asked if she wanted to clarify her comments, Pfotenhauer stood by her remarks. “I did say outside of Northern…I did say ‘real’ Virginia, because northern Virginia is where I’ve always been, but real Virginia I take to be this part of the state that is more Southern in nature, if you will. Northern Virginia is really metro DC, as you’re aware, Kevin.”

Shortly after, and a quick drive away from his campaign headquarters, McCain tried to rally the faithful in an area that may already be out of reach.

“I’ve got to give you some straight talk. Let me give you the state of the race today,” McCain told the crowd. “We have 17 days to go. We're 6 points down. The national media has written us off…. But my friends in all this planning they forgot to let you decide. My friends, we've got them just where we want them.”

The line has become a familiar one – and drew a now-familiar reaction from the strongly-Republican crowd, which began booing and chanting “Liberal media!” One woman threw a pack of gum at CNN Correspondent Ed Henry.

Right outside the entrance to the outdoor venue, a sign urging voters to "stop Barack Obama" featured the Soviet hammer and sickle, and the Muslim crescent.

Virginia’s 13 electoral votes have not gone to a Democratic presidential candidate since Lyndon Johnson’s 1964 White House re-election run. But the Democratic ticket has visited the state more than a dozen times since the beginning of this summer – more than twice as often as its GOP counterpart. Prince William County, site of Saturday’s rally, is one of the fastest-growing in the state.

And Barack Obama leads John McCain by 10 points in Virginia, 53 to 43 percent, in the CNN/Time/Opinion Research Corporation poll released last week.

For months, “NoVa” was the only region of a battleground state to get a special nod on the McCain campaign’s list of ad buys. But that distinction has disappeared, and the campaign’s presence on the airwaves here – which falls in the expensive Washington, D.C. media market – has dramatically diminished.

Republicans never thought McCain would take the area – but did hope to cut into Obama’s winning margins in the D.C. suburbs. The campaign may not view the area’s residents as real Virginians, but their very real votes carried Democratic Senator Jim Webb to victory over Republican George Allen in 2006. Democrat Tim Kaine is governor, and former Governor Mark Warner is highly-favored to add to the party’s Senate majority, taking the seat that currently belongs to retiring Republican Senator John Warner.

The party is stepping up its focus on this former Republican stronghold. Stepping in where the McCain campaign has pulled back, the RNC’s independent expenditure unit is boosting spending in the state. McCain himself has visited the state twice in less than a week, including an event with running mate Sarah Palin. On Sunday, her husband Todd Palin will take a bus tour of more favorable downstate areas.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (235 Responses)
  1. Will the Real Maverick Please Stand Up?

    Scott in Norfolk–your political insight is amazing.

    You must have attended the School of Palinism for your political savvy.

    October 18, 2008 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  2. Sacha

    Was Northern Virginia part of 'the real Virginia' when it was pro Bush just a few years ago? Makes no sense.
    Obama / Biden 08-16

    October 18, 2008 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  3. Real_American

    Real Americans vote for a real man, a real hero, or a tested soldier, a real commander-in-chief in a dangerous world, after 9/11, and not a smooth talker, or a flip-flopper, like Obama. We all know John McCain, but who is the REAL Barrack Obama? American people are smarter than that.

    October 18, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  4. Judith

    I am a real Virginian, just as my parents, grandparents, and great grandparents were. Where is the real McCain? I am ashamed for him. Has he all ways been this way? If he has then we need to ask who is the real McCain, not who is Obama!

    Senator Mc Cain, please stop bringing your divisive attitude to our proud state. And by the way, Sara Palin's ethics are lacking . As far as this real Virginian is concerned, she can't return to Alaska fast enough for me. Real Virginians don't like her spreading her hatred in our red, white and especially "soon to be BLUE " state. Richmond, the real Virginia, a pro-American state.

    October 18, 2008 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  5. Valasie August

    I live in Northern Virginia and unless you have traveled throughout the state, I can see how one would be offended by the "real Virginia" comment. But the truth is that the state is broad and complex with significanty different driving issues to the south and west compared to Northern Virginia. Most of the rest of Virginia actively claims that Northern Virginia isn't really Virginia. It wasn't until I drove through other parts of the state that I realized WHY there is that feeling among other Virginians. We are all Virginians but many Northern Virginias do have a different focus than the majority of the state.

    October 18, 2008 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  6. The Bu

    Well, I guess the "real" Virginia is like being in parts of America that are, uhm, "pro-American." At what depth of lowness will the McCain campaign be proud to hit? This is uttlerly ridiculous.

    October 19, 2008 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  7. roger, brooklyn, new york

    well we lost the real america eight years ago to the bush and if we are not carefull to the sinster mccain and palin. tell me who is using negative tactics at there rally.

    October 19, 2008 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  8. Essay

    To Real_American
    October 18th, 2008 11:52 pm ET "We all know John McCain, but who is the REAL Barrack Obama?"- I agree, we all know John McCain, a misogynistic, angry, entitled, greedy, deceitful, desperate, divisive, pathetic, adulterer who sold whatever respect and ideals he had left for one last shot at the White House. Oh yeah, he was also a POW during the Vietnam War. As for Barack Obama, he has told and shown you "who" he is time and time again, you simply refuse to listen or pay attention.

    October 19, 2008 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  9. lor

    Hey everybody, I'd just like to point out the obvious here. I have read through every comment here, and it's sad and troubling to see that McCain and Palin are being so successful in dividing our great country! They have instilled hatred into their base and it's disgusting to say the least. It is one thing to disagree with anothers policies, but it's downright dangerous and immoral to attack an opponent as unAmerican, a terrorist, a danger. Using these scare tactics is abhorrent.
    It's sad to have to explain to my young children that they should never act the way McCain and Palin have been acting. I try to teach my kids to be fair, respectful of others even when they are in disagreement, and to never ever incite hatred for another human being. So they asked me recently, "well, how come that man and lady can do those bad things, don't they know the rules?". No, I guess they don't..maybe they need to go back to kindergarten and learn them!!! Thanks McCain and Palin for being such a poor example for America's children. I get the feeling the kids of those predjudist people at your rallies who are yelling "kill him", "terrorist", and "bomb Obama" aren't teaching there kids how to be good American citizens!! Way to go!

    October 19, 2008 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Dustin

    I love how John McCain calls Obama a socialist after he planted Joe the not-plumber (did I mention he's also a tax evader). McCain is the one who wants the government to buy all these homes. Should the government be owning the homes of private citizens? That's worse than socialism. It's more like communism. And what about the college student who was arrested in Maine for holding up an Obama sign at a Palin (secessionist) rally? I thought we had free speech in this country, but I guess McShame and Hockey Mom don't agree.
    OBAMA '08!

    October 19, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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