- The Washington Times - Friday, November 4, 2005

President Bush will join Republican Jerry W. Kilgore on the campaign trail for an eleventh-hour rally leading to the Virginia gubernatorial election Tuesday.

“The president continues to be a favorite in Virginia, and we’re excited that he’s coming,” Mr. Kilgore told The Washington Times at a rally yesterday in Lynchburg, Va.

Nationwide polls released yesterday by the Associated Press showed Mr. Bush with a 37 percent approval rating. But the president has a better rating in Virginia, where a Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 voters taken Wednesday showed him with a 53 percent approval rating.

The president’s popularity is important for Mr. Kilgore, who agrees with Mr. Bush on most issues and who last year served as his state re-election chairman.

Some Kilgore supporters fear that problems within the national party are a “headwind” that could hurt state Republicans on Election Day.

The rally with Mr. Bush is scheduled for Monday night at the Richmond International Airport, and it follows sharp criticism over Mr. Kilgore not attending Mr. Bush’s terrorism speech last week in Hampton Roads.

Conservative critics said Mr. Kilgore snubbed the president during a tough time when he was taking heat about his choice of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court and White House aide I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was expected to be indicted.

Mr. Kilgore told critics he was not trying to distance himself from the president. He said he did not attend because the speech was about policy, not politics.

He reiterated the point yesterday in Lynchburg after a get-out-the-vote rally at the Radisson Hotel, which attracted about 125 supporters.

“He’s a big draw because he is our commander in chief,” Mr. Kilgore said. “He’s always been popular in Virginia. I am glad he’s coming. He’s our president. He’s our leader.”

Democratic candidate Timothy M. Kaine also had his campaign in full swing yesterday and again called upon high-profile party leaders to help him in a race that polls show is essentially a deadlock.

Mr. Kaine was joined yesterday at the Torpedo Factory Art Center in Old Town Alexandria by Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who has a more than 70 percent statewide approval rating.

“We’ve got the momentum; at the end we’re going to win this race,” Mr. Kaine told the crowd of about 500 supporters.

Mr. Warner said Mr. Kaine will continue the strides Democrats have made in Virginia.

“There is no one better suited to continue the progress, no one that will finish the job,” he said of his choice of successor. “And there is much left to be done.”

Mr. Warner called Mr. Kaine a “good man” with “a heart for public service,” who is able to make “the right choice, even if it’s a tough choice.”

A Rasmussen Reports poll taken Wednesday showed Mr. Kaine with a three-point lead. A Mason-Dixon poll released yesterday showed him with a one-point lead. Mr. Kaine’s lead is within the margin of error for both polls.

Mr. Kilgore was joined yesterday in his swing through Lynchburg, Charlottesville, Martinsville and Danville by William T. Bolling, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, and Robert F. McDonnell, party candidate for attorney general.

“We need your boots on the ground,” Mr. McDonnell told supporters. “This is a battle.”

Mr. Bolling called their Democratic opponents “extreme” and “too liberal.”

“We’re right, and they’re wrong for Virginia,” he said.

Mr. Kilgore was introduced at each stop by U.S. Sen. George Allen, who called him “a man you can trust.”

Former President Bill Clinton held a fundraiser last month for Mr. Kaine, who also has been joined on the campaign trail by U.S. Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Lieberman and former Sens. Joseph Maxwell “Max” Cleland and John R. Edwards.

Mr. Kilgore, who received more than $2 million from a private Bush fundraiser over the summer, has also gotten support from former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

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