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Huckabee On the Hot Seat -- Again

Anita Kumar

Did Mike Huckabee's visit to Virginia this week end up helping or hurting Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert F. McDonnell?

For the second day in a row, the former Aksanas governor and presidential candidate has come under fire by state Democrats for comments made earlier this week while campaigning with McDonnell.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh Deeds and C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, called on McDonnell to apologize for Huckabee's remark that Northern Virginians "aren't necessarily thinking the same way folks like you and me think."

"They may never have fully understood how hard it is for a lot of people to put a paycheck together, to be able to feed a family," he said.

If the comments sound vaguely familar, there's a good reason.

Last year, Sen. John McCain senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer said Northern Virginia was not real Virginia. "Real Virginia I take to be the -- this part of the state that is more Southern in nature, if you will. Northern Virginia is really metro D.C.," she said.

Cranwell said the tactic "didn't work then" and "won't work now." He said residents across the state "all have the same hopes, aspirations and dreams."

"Virginia is a commonwealth. We're all in this together,'' Deeds said. "It's time for this type of rhetoric to stop once and for all."

Later, in the day, Deeds' rival, Terry McAuliffe, released a statement: "Mike Huckabee's comments are not only offensive to the hard-working people of Northern Virginia, but are also just the latest incarnation of the tired 'Northern Virginia vs. the rest of the state' myth that has held up progress in the General Assembly. If we are going to get our economy back on track, we must understand that our fate depends on the ability to get things done as one, unified Virginia,'' he said.

McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin acknowledged that "former Arkansas Governor Huckabee made some comments that do not reflect how integrated Virginia's economy is" but "the only name on the Virginia ballot this fall on the Republican side is Bob McDonnell, and only he speaks for this campaign."

U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), who helped McDonnell officially kick off his campaign last week, came to his defense too. "Bob McDonnell was raised in Fairfax County. He understands Northern Virginia and the issues we face because this is where he is from, and where his family is from. He knows this area better than any other candidate running for governor. Bob McDonnell will be a great governor for all of Virginia."

By Anita Kumar  |  April 3, 2009; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe  
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The very fact that a gubernatorial candidate feels he needs to bring in a "celebrity" GOP politician this early in the race to bolster his standing speaks volumes. Why do we need outsiders in Virginia telling us about our state and the people who live here? We already have Terry McAuliffe as the ultimate Virginia pretender, we don't need to have the GOP bussing in people from out of state to lecture us on economics as well. I hope every Virginian is just as offended by all of this as I am and I hope they speak with their vote!

Posted by: csread | April 3, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

McAuliffe lives in Virginia and has for twenty years! What part of that do you not get?

Posted by: robsmithiii | April 4, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I don't find anything wrong with bringing in outside influence. Supporters of the Virginia GOP are also most likely supporters of the national GOP. National input can help with strategy in a lot of ways during elections. I'm not saying that Huckabee is helping at all but, then again, he is drawing numbers.

Posted by: robsmithiii | April 4, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

When you are fundraising you bring in name policians who can deliver butts in the seats. McAuliffe is bringing in the Clintons is he not? McDonnell is trying to raise money and Huckabee is a big name.

Posted by: genericrepub | April 6, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

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