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Deeds Campaigns with Women in NoVa

Rosalind Helderman

Democrat Creigh Deeds kicked off his Women for Deeds tour this morning at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, surrounded by more than 80 activists, most of them women. He insisted his week long push to highlight opponent Bob McDonnell's record on pushing for abortion isn't just about the divisive social issue. Instead, he said the discussion is one of priorities.

"My opponent's rhetoric can be confusing. One day, he says his campaign is about jobs, jobs, jobs. The next, he says elections are litmus tests on abortion. But throughout his career, his record and his priorities have been clear," Deeds said. "He's focused on a narrow ideological agenda rather than one that would move Virginia forward."

Among the notables in the crowd, Lynda Robb, wife of former U.S. Senator Chuck Robb, Democratic state Sens. Toddy Puller and Mary Margaret Whipple, as well as delegates Kristen J. Amundson, Charniele Herring, Margaret G. Vanderhye, Vivian E. Watts and Secretary for the Commonwealth Kate Hanley.

Republicans are pushing back hard against the new Deeds message, convinced it will work to their advantage if Deeds is seen as the one making abortion central to the campaign.

Within hours of the strategy becoming public yesterday, the Republican Party of Virginia distributed a video of Deeds from the Virginia Bar Association debate last week, in which Deeds says that "the extent [social issues] arise, I'm not afraid to talk about them" but added "I've never made social policy a huge part of my campaigns or a huge part of my agenda." Deeds added, "we can't be continually dividing our citizens on social mores and social politics."

Republicans say that represented a pledge not to raise social issues in the campaign, one that Deeds has now broken.
"I think it's obvious that Creigh knows that he is in trouble, so he's thrown up this Hail Mary pass to rile up his liberal base," said Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins in a statement Sunday. "When you're this close to Election Day and you have to do something so desperate to motivate your party faithful, there's something wrong with your campaign."

But Deeds today rejected the idea that he had made any commitment to avoid the issue and said it is an important difference between he and McDonnell.

"It's easy in an election year to talk a good game about the governor you're going to be and it's easy to talk about jobs and bipartisanship, but I think it's my obligation to draw distinctions where they exist," Deeds said.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  August 10, 2009; 2:30 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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