GOP Finds Issue in Warner Speech
Virginia Republicans are stepping up their efforts to tie U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner to the national Democratic party and Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
The strategy of linking Warner to liberals in Washington has long been a part of the GOP playbook. But Warner, apparently confident of his big lead in the polls, gave the GOP new ammunition by agreeing to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention next week.
Privately, some GOP insiders have been frustrated that Warner's GOP opponent, former governor James S. Gilmore III, has appeared curiously silent as it relates to Warner's speech next week.
Unwilling to wait for Gilmore to make the attack on his own, the Virginia Republican Party is taking the lead in trying to link Warner to national Democrats.
In a lengthy memo sent out Tuesday night to GOP supporters and reporters, Del. Jeffrey M. Frederick, the chairman of the state party, noted that National Journal ranked Obama as the most liberal senator in 2007. (Obama and some independent analysts strongly dispute that ranking).
"This means that Obama is more liberal than an avowed socialist, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont," Frederick wrote. "Yet this is the man who Mark Warner chooses to honor in the form of giving his keynote address. For years the Democrats in Virginia said they were different from their national counterparts who were on the left. ...But the convention in Denver will once and for all dispel any myth to the contrary."
Frederick added, "The fact is that Mark Warner is the perfect choice to keynote the Democratic convention. As the guest of honor of a far-left gathering, Warner can give a clinic to Obama and the national Democrats on how to campaign as a bipartisan, non-ideological candidate but then push through a hard core liberal agenda once elected."
Kevin Hall, a Warner spokesman, dismissed Frederick's charge as "more of same tired political games that Virginians and Americans are sick and tired of."
"Governor Warner's speech will share the Virginia success story that delivered real results for people by moving beyond Jeff Frederick's brand of hyper-partisan, slash-and-burn politics," Hall said.
But it's hard to see how some Republicans who were considering voting Warner don't at least take a second look at Gilmore given Warner's high-profile role at the convention.
By giving the keynote, Warner becomes the face and messenger of the National Democratic Party. According to Webster's NewWorld Dictionary, a keynote address is "a speech, as at a political convention, that sets forth the main line of policy."
Gilmore, whose campaign had only about $100,000 in the bank a month ago, won't be able to use Warner's speech to win the election. He may , however, be able to use it to keep Warner below the 60 percent threshold that some Democrats believe Warner desperately seeks to obtain in November.
August 20, 2008; 1:01 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate , James Gilmore III , Mark Warner , Tim Craig
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