Obama Tears into Tea Party at Rally for McAuliffe
ARLINGTON, Va. -- President Barack Obama cast Republican Ken Cuccinelli on Sunday as part of an extreme tea party faction that shut down the government, throwing the political weight of the White House behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final days of a bitter race for governor.
Seeking an upset, Cuccinelli cast this week’s Virginia gubernatorial election as a referendum on Obama’s troubled national health care law.
National issues that have divided Democrats and Republicans spilled into the race and colored the final hours of campaigning ahead of Tuesday’s vote. As one of just two gubernatorial races in the nation, the results of Tuesday’s elections could hold clues about voter attitudes and both parties’ messages heading into the 2014 midterm elections.
Obama tore into Cuccinelli as an ideologue unwilling to compromise, while Cuccinelli was telling his supporters that Tuesday’s election will be a test for the health care law and McAuliffe’s support for it.
"No more Obamacare in Virginia. That’s the message we can send," Cuccinelli said in Weyers Cave, a small town northwest of Charlottesville, as he began a day that was taking him from airport to airport, many in Republican-rich regions in southern and western Virginia.
A short time later, in northern Virginia on the outskirts of Washington, Obama said a vote for McAuliffe would be a vote for progress. He said Cuccinelli wanted Virginia voters to forget that the Republican’s like-minded counterparts in Congress just weeks earlier had taken the economy, the nation and the economy hostage, hurting Virginians in the process.
"Now he says it’s in the rearview mirror. It can’t be in the rearview mirror if this is your operative theory of politics," Obama told a crowd of 1,600 gathered in a high school gymnasium in Arlington.
Polls show McAuliffe ahead and campaign finance reports show dramatically lopsided results, with the Democrats outraising and outspending Cuccinelli and his allies by a wide margin. Television airtime was tilted in McAuliffe’s favor by 10-to-1.
That has led Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general who led the unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn the health law, to focus on reaching conservative voters almost exclusively. He uses his campaign stops to energize his own backers, many of whom disapprove of the president and detest his health care law.
"If you want to fight Obamacare, if you want to tell Washington that Virginians have had enough of Obamacare, then I need your vote," a hoarse Cuccinelli said at an airport rally in Roanoke.
The race is going to be decided by the few Virginians who choose to vote. The state Board of Elections chief says turnout could be as low as 30 percent of registered voters and the campaigns see 40 percent turnout as the goal.