Obama Heading to Southwest Virginia
Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) will hold a town hall meeting in Lebanon in Southwest Virginia on Tuesday, marking his fourth campaign swing through the state since June.
Obama will discuss the economy during his visit to Lebanon High School. Lebanon, population 4,000, is located in Russell County in the heart of Virginia's coal country, where Obama performed poorly in the Feb. 12 primary. Obama got just 14 percent of the vote in the county, even though he had been endorsed by the region's popular congressman, U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher (D).
But Obama will be making his second trip to the region, underscoring his campaign's belief that he can improve his standing in rural America if he takes his message directly to residents.
Obama's visit is also another sign he plans to fight for Virginia's 13 electoral votes until the end, despite curtailing advertising recently in some other traditional red states, such as Georgia and Alaska. On Thursday, Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del), made two campaign stops in Virginia. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) is also campaigning for Obama today in Northern Virginia.
Russell County could be key to Obama's hopes of picking up more votes in Southwest Virginia.
Although it has been traditionally Democratic, largely due to the influence of the United Mine Workers union, Russell County and the rest of the region are trending Republican because of residents' conservative views on social issues.
Former President Clinton carried Russell County twice during his presidential campaigns in the 1990s, and former Vice-President Al Gore won the county with 50 percent of the vote during his unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2000. But President Bush won Russell County easily in 2004.
In the 2005 governor's race, former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore (R), who was from the region, easily carried Russell County. The following year, U.S. Sen. James Webb (D) won Russell County by 171 votes.
Obama most likely doesn't have to win Russell County this year, given his expected strength further east, but he will at the very least have to triple his primary showing to prevent GOP presidential nominee John McCain (Ariz.) from racking up crushing margins in the 9th congressional district.
September 6, 2008; 8:10 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Election 2008/President , James Webb , Tim Craig
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