- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The leader of Virginia’s Republican Party predicted Tuesday that Sen. Barack Obama will do better among Virginia voters than previous Democratic presidential candidates have but said it’s highly improbable he will beat Republican Sen. John McCain in the state.

“I wouldn’t say that Obama can’t win Virginia, because anything’s possible,” Delegate Jeffrey M. Frederick, 32, told editors and reporters at The Washington Times. “But I think it’s unlikely.”

Mr. Frederick - less than 40 days into his job as chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia - said during an interview that Mr. McCain could have trouble winning over some conservatives in the state because of his stance on immigration and his party’s failure to clearly communicate its core values.

But he predicted that Mr. Obama will be seen as a far-left liberal in blue-trending Virginia, which would favor Mr. McCain in part because of its large military population.

Mr. Frederick said Virginia has roughly 800,000 veterans, a constituency he expects to side with Mr. McCain because of his status as a medal-winning hero of the Vietnam War.

“Is it really reasonable to expect that those 800,000 veterans … are going to go to vote against a decorated military veteran [and] prisoner of war, for a guy who’s I guess three years out of the state Senate and suddenly thinks he can be president of the United States?” Mr. Frederick asked.

Mr. Frederick - a state lawmaker from Prince William County who has supported an immigration crackdown there that was deemed one of the toughest in the country - acknowledged that Mr. McCain alienated some conservatives with his support last year for legislation that would enable some illegal immigrants to become citizens.

But he said the Arizona senator’s fiscally conservative stance, his record on national security and his fight against pork-barrel spending will help keep Virginia in the Republican column on Nov. 4, when voters also will choose between former Govs. Mark Warner, a Democrat, and James S. Gilmore III, a Republican, to replace retiring Republican Sen. John W. Warner.

Virginia has not chosen a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964, but residents in recent years have elected two Democratic governors, allowed a Democrat to take over a Republican’s seat in the U.S. Senate and voted a Democratic majority into the state Senate.

Mr. Frederick also said he would like to see Mr. McCain choose Mark Sanford as his running mate because the South Carolina governor could appeal to conservatives not enthralled with Mr. McCain.

Referring to Mr. Obama’s early lead in most national polls, he likened the presumptive Democratic candidate’s pitch to a popular song.

“He’s got a nice tune, people really like the way he sounds,” Mr. Frederick said. “But if you look at the words to the song, I don’t think people are going to go for that.”

Mr. Frederick is a staunch anti-tax conservative who won his bid to head the state Republican Party in May after a bitter contest against incumbent Chairman John H. Hager. His tenure begins as Virginia Republicans are hoping to build their base in a critical election year.

Mr. Frederick said he plans to improve the state party’s outreach in part by offering to provide Web sites for local Republican units, and he aims to have state party officials aid local Republicans by offering them the tools, training and support they need.

Mr. Frederick also said he hopes to unite Republicans by adopting a permanent party platform at next year’s nominating convention for state elections.

He said he hopes to have the state central committee put forth a temporary platform by the end of this year that he said should center on issues like family values, fiscal conservatism, public safety and national defense.

By Gary Emerling.

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