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Obama rallies for Deeds in Va.
NORFOLK | President Obama worked to mobilize Virginia voters in support of R. Creigh Deeds on Tuesday as new poll numbers show the Democratic gubernatorial candidate’s campaign falling farther behind his Republican rival, Robert F. McDonnell.
Mr. Obama told 5,700 supporters who crowded the Ted Constant Convocation Center at Old Dominion University that Mr. Deeds has “been there for the people of Virginia. Now he needs you to be there for him.”
He likened the uphill battle the Deeds campaign faces to his own efforts in becoming the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia since 1964.
“We knew this was going to be tough. But even though Virginia is moving in the right direction, this is an evenly split state, pretty independent-minded folks,” Mr. Obama said.
Mr. Obama said Mr. Deeds would continue a path of progress begun by Gov. Mark Warner, now a U.S. senator from Virginia, and Gov. Tim Kaine, who also serves as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Mr. Obama’s influence in the race is expected to be crucial. With polls showing Mr. Deeds trailing Mr. McDonnell by double digits, Democrats hope the president can energize the party base and turn out the newly registered voters that supported his campaign last year.
Mr. Obama spoke to those voters directly Tuesday.
“So if you were fired up last year, then we need you out there working just as hard right now, knocking on doors, making phone calls, talking to your friends and neighbors and telling them what’s at stake,” he said.
Mr. Deeds, in remarks delivered before Mr. Obama spoke, also reached out to new voters.
“Last year, we produced an extraordinary result. … We need to do the same thing this year because the work is never finished. I’m running for governor because I want to create opportunity, prosperity and hope in every corner of Virginia,” Mr. Deeds said.
Mr. Obama also invoked a theme the Deeds campaign has recently employed, saying the candidate may not be “slick,” but that he “represents a better kind of politics.”
“We don’t need politicians who are more interested in scoring points than solving problems,” Mr. Obama said. “We don’t need folks who are slick, or try to say one thing and then do another.”
The campaign appearance came as a new poll says Mr. McDonnell’s lead is growing as Election Day approaches.
A poll released Tuesday by nonpartisan Raleigh, N.C.-based Public Policy Polling shows Mr. McDonnell widening his lead over Mr. Deeds to 15 points. The poll gives the Republican a 55 percent to 40 percent advantage, up from a 52 percent to 40 percent advantage a week ago.
The poll said 49 percent of voters have a negative opinion of Mr. Deeds, compared with 36 percent who have an unfavorable opinion of Mr. McDonnell.
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