Deeds, Cranwell: Mullins Comment Just Like Bush
The great thing about party chairmen is they can say all the hard edged partisan things that rev up the base but probably shouldn't come out of the mouth of a political candidate running as a pragmatic moderate.
The difficult thing about party chairmen is they say all the hard edged partisan things that probably shouldn't be said anywhere in the vicinity of a political candidate trying to run as a pragmatic moderate.
Democratic Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and Democratic state party chairman Richard Cranwell held a conference call this morning to blast a comment made recently by Cranwell's counterpart, Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins.
At a recent speech in Monterey, Mullins told a story about insurance office forced to close in Wise, not because of the economy but because they couldn't recruit needed employees, even at a local college.
"They preferred to be on welfare," Mullins said.
Cue up the conference call.
"When Bob McDonnell says people in this part of the state would rather have welfare than jobs, it's not only offensive, it shows he just doesn't get Virginia," said Deeds, who called on McDonnell and Mullins to apologize.
Deeds is now on his Deeds Country tour of rural Virginia and used the comment to suggest that Republicans economic policies under George Bush have failed those in rural parts of the state.
"Virginians don't want welfare. They want work. They don't want Bob McDonnell or anyone else taking us back to the days of Bush economic policies," Deeds said.
(We wrote about this Bush strategy this morning.)
But two can play at this game.
Deeds and Cranwell were pressed: If Bush's policies have hurt rural Virginia, what about President Obama's approach? Will health care reform, for instance, be good for rural Virginia?
Deeds hedged, as he has when asked this question in recent days. He said he agrees the country must find a way to help the uninsured get covered and ensure those now covered don't lose their insurance. But, he added: "Does that mean I agree with every specific proposal? And the specific health care proposals before Congress? No, it doesn't."
It was Cranwell who jumped in with a far rosier view of what Democrats are attempting with health care. Bush's prescription drug plan did nothing but "line the pockets of insurance companies."
"I don't see anything in the Obama plan that's designed to increase the cost of health care to folks but to understand that the cost of health care has grown exponentially," Cranwell said.
Cranwell said Republicans have a "Dr. No" approach to health care that would suggest to Americans that they must accept that health care will be "priced out of their reach."
"We must act now," Cranwell said.
UPDATE: The Republican party has responded with a joint statement from Jerry and Terry Kilgore, natives of southwest Virginia, blasting Deeds for an "attempt to prey on the economic fears people have" to score political points. They say it's Democrats who are hurting the economy through cap-and-trade, card check and "socialized medicine" proposals. "From a campaign that doesn't appear to know that Bath County is not in Southwest Virginia, the Democrats' attention to this issue appears to be transparently political," the brothers write.
They also note, quite rightly, that it was Mullins who made the welfare quote, not McDonnell himself--though you wouldn't have necessarily gotten that from Deeds comments during the call.
August 3, 2009; 1:40 PM ET
Categories: 2009 Governor's Race , Barack Obama , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman
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