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Wilder: Obama Made a Pitch for Deeds

Rosalind Helderman

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder says he received a call directly from President Obama about three weeks ago to discuss a variety of issues, but, top among them, was the Virginia governor's race.

Wilder said the call was confidential and he would not reveal his exact back and forth with the president, whom Wilder strongly supported last year. But, he said, Obama made clear that he would like the former Democratic governor to get off the fence and endorse Democrat Creigh Deeds.

"I'll just say he called and made his position known and made it clear, he's a Democrat, Mr. Deeds is a Democrat and obviously, the president would like to see a Democratic victory," Wilder said.

Wilder said the president's call was just one of a number of contacts he has had with the White House in recent weeks on the issue.

Wilder confirmed that he will be making a statement about his endorsement later this week, as first reported Sunday by the Washington Times. He stressed the statement would be *about* his endorsement, not necessarily an endorsement. And he said he will be speaking to Deeds directly for the first time this year either today or tomorrow.

Wilder has a long history of withholding his endorsement until the very last minute in elections and jumping in now would be somewhat out of character for the former governor. On the other hand, the mystery being built around his nod this year is vintage Wilder.

Is there any way to divine the tea leaves about what Wilder might do later this week? You tell us if you can figure it out. He insists he will not make up his mind until meeting with Deeds. As he has repeatedly over the last several months, he said he thinks that Deeds has not yet defined himself with voters. He calls Republican Robert F. McDonnell's writings in his 1989 thesis "the dumbest thing he could do." But says that even if McDonnell were "put in front of a firing squad," that would leave Deeds standing alone. "That would leave you with Deeds having to define who he is. What would he do?"

On the other hand, Wilder did not go out of his way to praise McDonnell, as he has in the past. Instead he said both candidates have been talking too much about how they would spend state money without enough realism about how little money the state now has.

"To both of those candidates, it doesn't make any sense to go around the state telling people what you will do when you know you will not have any money," he said.

Would Wilder really turn down a direct appeal from the president of the United States?

"No one that I know of, went out more for President Obama than I did," Wilder said. "I don't think the president questions my loyalty to him at all."

So maybe, yes. But then there is this: "I never have endorsed a Republican. Consequently, that being the case, I don't know if that's going to change," he said, suggesting the issue is whether he will endorse Deeds or stay out of the race, as he did when Deeds ran against McDonnell for attorney general in 2005.

But, with Wilder, it's always hard to tell until he decides to tell. So, stay tuned.

By Rosalind Helderman  |  September 21, 2009; 9:34 AM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Comments

Let's see now, calling various states getting involved in their races, doing television blitzes. Can't his handlers find something else for him to do. Besides traveling the world slamming the United States, that is. Come on Soros and Emmelt, give him something else to do.

Posted by: patilee | September 21, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

As the leading politician of the Democratic party, President Obama is doing his duty in encouraging what he considers to be the best contenders to run for offices nationally. I'm sure, that as head of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh will do the same.

Posted by: query0 | September 21, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

queer-o, here's a news flash, Rush isn't the leader of the republican party, Steel is. Secondly, the Governor of Virginia is not considered a national political position unless NOBAMA wants to create another CZAR position, then I suppose you could make a case for it becoming national, you know, like the auto czar and acorn czar. Oh, there's a thought, NOBAMA could appoint Wilder as the new ACORN CZAR. WOW, think of the movies they could turn out.

Posted by: tizzyfit | September 21, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the President was reading an outdated Virginia political playbook when he called Doug Wilder. Many Virginia Democrats who steadfastly supported the former state senator/governor/mayor on his journey in politics are becoming tired of the games he plays with his so-called endorsements. Today when you mention Doug Wilder, many Democrats just roll their eyes and change the subject. It's almost the way people made the pilgimage to Winchester to beg for the gift of endorsement at the feet of the Byrd family. They did so long after Harry Byrd and his machine ceased to be of political importance. This is where Doug Wilder is now. Just not that important any more.

Posted by: rmg4369 | September 21, 2009 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"queer-o, here's a news flash, Rush isn't the leader of the republican party, Steel is. Secondly, the Governor of Virginia is not considered a national political position unless NOBAMA wants to create another CZAR position, then I suppose you could make a case for it becoming national, you know, like the auto czar and acorn czar. Oh, there's a thought, NOBAMA could appoint Wilder as the new ACORN CZAR. WOW, think of the movies they could turn out.

Posted by: tizzyfit | September 21, 2009 12:03 PM"

Please, numbnutz, your fellow rightwingnuts at GOP headquarters have been proclaiming that a McDonnell win will have national implications. So Obama is certainly smart to do what he can to influence the race.

Right now it looks like Bobby McD's macaca thesis is doing just fine on its own, thank you very much.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 21, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Of course Obama wants Deeds to win. So does anyone in Virginia who cares about the future of this state. All the Virginia Republicans know how to do is scream "no" to any progress that will lift this state out of the stone age.

Their mantra:
No to education.
No to transportation.
No to the environment.
No to alternative energy.
No to anyone on our highways who needs to take a leak.

Like all Republicans, Bobby Mickey Dee thinks all he has to do is stand there, look pretty, cross his fingers, say a prayer and jobs will come running. We'll all get a free lunch.

But his plans, like the plans of the rest of his whack job sponsors is to let the state crumble into a ghetto of clogged, pot-holed roads with a population of inbred, brain-dead rednecks who can't even spell Virginia.

Posted by: thuff7 | September 21, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

If you really believe that he would endorse anyone other than Deeds, you are politically naive. Wilder is a true blue Democrat and will behave accordingly.

Posted by: VaBroker | September 21, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

"He calls Republican Robert F. McDonnell's writings in his 1989 thesis 'the dumbest thing he could do.' But says that even if McDonnell were 'put in front of a firing squad,' that would leave Deeds standing alone. 'That would leave you with Deeds having to define who he is. What would he do?'"

It is obvious that Wilder is more in touch than Deeds. He makes a comment on the thesis, dismisses it and hones in on the issues. Good for him. So, how will he justify a Deeds endorsement? Deeds has yet to define himself. His bread and butter issue is the thesis and he's attempting to ride Warner and Kaine's coattails. I look forward to reading his statement in support of McDonnell...probably not. But I do look forward to reading his statement, more likely than not in support of Deeds.

Posted by: conservativemaverick | September 22, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Obama is not "interfering in state races." He is the leader of the Democratic party. It is his responsibility to help Dems win. In NY that means trying to get Patterson out of the race. In VA it means trying to help Deeds win. There is nothing unusual or inappropriate about any of this.

Posted by: xcrunner771 | September 22, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

I have had it with Doug Wilder. I worked hard to help him win the governorship in 1989. But he is beyond all reason. I can only guess that the most valuable thing in his life is his mirror. Good riddance.

Posted by: jthebear | September 25, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

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