Pool Report for Deeds Fundraiser
We were the pooler for the Virginia press corps at the fundraiser with President Obama held just before tonight's rally. Here's the pool report we filed. More coverage of the full event will be posted at www.washingtonpost.com shortly.
About 200 top donors crowded an atrium at the Hilton Hotel in McLean, Va., just off the main ballroom, for a closed fundraiser preceding the main event in the room next door. There was a bar along the right-hand wall and a podium at the front of the room backed by a velvet blue curtain.
From the pool hold, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine could be heard introducing state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds.
"As governor and lieutenant governor, I had a chance to work with everyone in state government," he said. "I got to know Creigh very very well. In tough times, you've got to show you have a backbone, you've got a heart."
"I have to tell you, I don't know of a finer man in public service than Creigh Deeds."
Deeds got the task of introducing Obama, but told the group he knew he was not the main event. He was immediately interrupted by the whole group chanting, "We love Creigh."
President Obama bounded onto the small raised stage just before 6:30 p.m. He grasped Deeds' hand, then pulled him into a half hug, before shaking hands and hugging Kaine. He wore a blue suit, red tie and white shirt.
Obama began by praising Kaine. He noted he called Kaine shortly after the governor took office, in the early days of his own campaign in 2007.
"He was obviously new and not very experienced because he agreed he would endorse my candidacy when nobody else even knew how to pronounce my name."
Obama then moved into a discussion of the past seven years in Virginia politics. He said a "pattern had emerged" in Virginia of pragmatic, bipartisan leadership. He said Mark Warner had helped end the "slash-and-burn politics that were not working for the people of Virginia or of America."
"Then," he said, "Tim Kaine came in and was able to build on that legacy."
He said Virginia had survived the recession better than most states because of that leadership. "Now the Commonwealth of Virginia has the opportunity to continue that tradition," with Deeds, he said.
Obama said he had a bias to support Deeds. They both served in state senates for eight years. They both have daughters. "He's got kind of a funny name. I've got kind of a funny name."
The president acknowledged the race was likely to be tight. He said that he and Kaine had been talking on their way into the event. "I was saying, we don't believe in easy. We don't believe in blowout victories."
At that point, a man in the crowd shouted out "except for a second term!"
Obama said that Virginia was "still a purple state" and people still were hurting from the economy. "In that environment, the incumbent party is going to have some challenges." But he said there are signs the crisis is lifting and optimism is returning.
He closed, voice rising, by telling the group that he needed his supporters to get back out for Deeds.
"The key right now for all of us to making sure we cut through the doubts, we cut the cynicism, we hit the ground. I want to make sure that everybody who was as activated around my campaign just a few months ago, is not sitting back and simply saying their work is done, Obama said. "We have just started to change this country, and we need a person like Creigh to finish the job we've begun."
With that, Obama, Deeds and Kaine departed the stage, on their way to the larger rally next door.
August 6, 2009; 9:19 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Barack Obama , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell
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