Campaign '08 Takes Over Virginia

By: Matt Holmes Email
By: Matt Holmes Email

Wednesday July 9, 2008

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain are locked in a tight race here in Virginia. The latest poll, conducted between June 20 and 22 by SurveyUSA, shows Obama with a slight lead over his chief rival, 49-47 percent.

But could that change with some of this week's visits to the commonwealth?

"Anytime that Jeremiah Wright does go out, it can't possibly be a good thing," says Isaac Wood with the UVa Center for Politics.

But 'go out' is exactly what Obama's controversial former pastor did Wednesday, addressing hundreds at a Richmond church, praising Obama and refering to President Bush as "crazy" and responsible for murder.

With Obama's razor-thin edge in the commonwealth, is Wright hurting the Democrats' chances to put Virginia in the left-hand column for the first time since LBJ?

"Most people who would care about Jeremiah Wright and the sorts of things he said and how that reflects on Barack Obama, they've already decided how they're going to cast their vote," Wood says. "So nothing else Jeremiah Wright can do will probably sway too many more voters."

Further illustrating the importance of Virginia, Obama will hold a town hall meeting Thursday at the Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, while McCain will hold a tele-town hall meeting in Fairfax, as well as open two new regional offices; one in Richmond and the other in Fairfax.

Why so much advance attention to Virginia and her 13 electoral votes?

"Barack Obama has to introduce himself to voters. People in Virginia do not know Barack Obama, he hasn't been on the national scene for very long," Wood says. "On the flip side of the coin, John McCain has to give his own narrative of who Barack Obama is."

At the Center for Politics, they say outside interests could play a role in Virginia's vote as well.

A VP nomination for Governor Tim Kaine could help Obama, while third party candidate Ralph Nader could possibly hurt Obama. Nader will be in Charlottesville on Sunday. He'll hold a rally at Gravity Lounge at 2pm. The campaign suggests a $10 donation for the general public, $5 for students who attend.

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