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McDonnell Responds to Johnson Flap

Rosalind Helderman

Leaving a forum this morning hosted by the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce, Republican Bob McDonnell was asked what responsibility he bears for Sheila Johnson's videotaped comments mocking Democrat Creigh Deeds's speaking style and whether he would apologize for it. McDonnell did not apologize. Instead, he said that he knew that Johnson had issued a statement "she believed was appropriate." He went on to try to explain what he thought Johnson was trying to express in her comments.

"Listen," he told reporters. "Senator Deeds hasn't had any problem for the last two months viciously attacking me on any number of things that misrepresented my position. So I think he's a very good spokesman for his cause. ... The reason she's supporting me, that she said at the announcement speech, is that she believes I've got the best ideas on jobs, the economy and economic development."

"What she was saying, is what I understood her to say ... is that Senator Deeds hasn't been able to put together a comprehensive plan, a positive vision about where he's going to take Virginia. Now that's what I understood from Sheila's statement."

By Rosalind Helderman  |  October 6, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman  
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Next: McCain to Hold Rally With McDonnell


Deeds is so far out of his depth it's embarrassing. Sheila Johnson is exactly right about this clown. Hey Creigh baby, if the heat's too hot, get out of the kitchen..

Posted by: SMWE357 | October 6, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Politically, a dumb response by McDonnell. Because it was so obviously fake. That video hasn't gotten 50,000-plus hits in 24 hours because she was making a rather dull comment contrasting two candidates for governor. And McDonnell knows it.

Even with a fairly typical campaign bump in the road like this one (supporter goes off the rails), Bob McDonnell's instinct always seems to go for the focus-grouped comment -- the spin that tests well -- rather than a straightforward, honest answer. Like in this case, it would have been Politics 101 to say she clearly made a mistake, she has now apologized, no further comment. How hard is that?

It seems he just can't acknowledge a mistake, even by someone else.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | October 6, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

Misrepresenting your position, Bob? From your hand to paper, directly. No, Bob, those were your words. No misrepresentation involved.

Posted by: hitpoints | October 6, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Even the compost can't save this Deeds character. Better luck next time lefties..

Posted by: SMWE357 | October 6, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Indeed. The Post seems to be conveniently ignoring the latest poll that has McDonnell up by 14, and his down-ticket mates both up by double digits as well. If it was reversed, and Deeds was the one pulling away, does anybody really think the Post would be giving more attention to someone else's offhand comment than they would to the poll? Memo to the Post - there are very good reasons why people don't trust you.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | October 6, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

mbcnewspaper, as I've explained several times in these comments, we aren't ignoring those polls -- they simply don't meet our standards for how a poll should be conducted to ensure the most accurate possible results. We've got our own poll coming out soon, keep an eye out for that.

Christopher Dean Hopkins
Deputy Editor, Local Politics and Government

Posted by: Christopher Dean Hopkins | October 6, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr Hopkins,

If you've had to explain the Post's selective coverage multiple times, that really ought to tell you something.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | October 6, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Hopkins- I agree with mbc. IF the Post's job is to merely report the news- not selectively but accurately- AND you have been banging the drum for Deeds' thesis-mongering for the past 7 weeks, you really ought to tell the whole story. That includes ALL polls (you can context them however you choose) and BOTH sides of every story, including (in the case of the thesis) that McDonnell proposed more than 100 bills as AG over the last 4 years; more than 90 passed and Deeds himself voted for 98% of those. None dealt with abortion, contrception, etc.

I'd like to have seen that as a front page story in the interests of fairness instead of taking up Deeds' (and your own editorial board's) false sliming of McDonnell.

One question: After McDonnell wins in November, do you guys get to do the concession speech for Deeds?

Posted by: SpotsySteve | October 6, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I am reassured reading so many confident Republicans. I sure hope that your brimming confidence sails you right on through November 3rd!

In the meantime, as I suppose we are not as confident, we are knocking doors like mad in our super-Democratic precincts making sure our NoVA vote gets out.

My precinct, Woodlawn in Fairfax County (627) had about 1,100 votes for Kaine in 2005....and a 70% vote.

This year, I'm hoping for a 1,300 vote turnout, and 68%. That should be enough to put us over the top. If we get anywhere below 1,200 votes in Woodlawn, I think it'll be a sign that our base isn't fired up enough to compensate for the more energized loonie base.

But seriously, I actually feel good now seeing Warner's commercial for Creigh all over the place, and also knowing that our ground game is kicking butt in NoVA. Now if only Creigh would get out HIMSELF in some ads that let people know who he really is....and what he's going to do.

I have to say, the ads that McDonnell has that use Creigh's own words are effective....but if people pay attention to what he's actually saying on taxes (no increase to the General Fund, but everything's on the table for transportation) Northern Viriginians are going to LOVE Creigh!

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | October 6, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

And actually, I've noticed in going to doors in my precinct in Fairfax that a lot of the first-time Obama voters who we're canvassing ARE actually engaged in politics still, and they're VERY fed up with the health care debate (they want a public option BAD). They are paying attention, and I think the chances that we'll get some of those new voters out for the Governor's race is actually pretty good. A 15% increase in my precinct turnout should indicate the nail in McDonnell's coffin.

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | October 6, 2009 5:45 PM | Report abuse

Deeds is Mr. Ed against Secretariat. He literally has no shot whatsoever..

Posted by: SMWE357 | October 6, 2009 6:32 PM | Report abuse

What a circus. Does anyone really think that McDonnell's going to carry out policies that harm the handicapped? If not, why is anyone talking about it? This is embarrassing.

Posted by: OlMcCreedy | October 6, 2009 6:50 PM | Report abuse

This isn't about PC anything. If Bob McDonnell is so clueless that he can't understand why he should apologize for NOT speaking out at the time that Johnson made her remarks, he clearly doesn't have what it takes to be the Governor Virginia needs for the next four years.

A real leader doesn't place political expediency above basic human decency.

Posted by: wolfies | October 7, 2009 1:36 AM | Report abuse

So because you're offended about his response, you think he's incompetent in all the other issues in which he talks circles around Creigh Deeds every day? Surely you jest. I understand why you'd be offended. But to tell yourself that it makes him unqualified for governor is an overreaction. About 54% of Virginia sees it differently.

One mistake doesn't always disqualify someone for governor. If that were the case, Deeds would be considered disqualified by all women for referring to a professional woman as "young lady."

Everyone could find something a candidate has said to get offended by. Your much better off focusing on the candidate's positions on the issues than choosing a misstatement here or there and using that to say the candidate is disqualified overall.

Posted by: OlMcCreedy | October 7, 2009 7:25 AM | Report abuse

Keep up the Double Standards. When is Deeds going to apologize for annoying the sh!t out of my radio listening and tv watching with his nonstop attacks? There should be a law against too much negative ads and mandatory ads on what Deeds will do for Virginia. Honestly he's incoherence is his own doing and if he's not ready to lead he doesn't deserve this Independent's vote.

Posted by: letsfroggy1 | October 7, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

""What she was saying, is what I understood her to say ... is that Senator Deeds hasn't been able to put together a comprehensive plan, a positive vision about where he's going to take Virginia. Now that's what I understood from Sheila's statement.""

This statement is exhibit A that McDonnell is a moron.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | October 7, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse


And what I understood her to say is that she thinks it is permissible to make fun of people who may have a disability if it is going to make your new best friends laugh. I am sure that Sheila would not take such disdain from anyone for either her gender, her race or her weight. I am equally sure Bob McDonnell and his followers would not appreciate jokes being made about his height (and lack thereof). So, I just don't understand how then can be so callous as to pull a stunt like this.

Don't they understand just how mean-spirited this is?

Posted by: wolfies | October 7, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

This sounds remarkably similar to Obama mocking handicapped Special Olympic children on the Jay leno show or when he mocked John McCain for not being able to type when using his computer because of his hand disability.

Considering that Ms. Johnson was one of the largest contributors to the Obama campaign I guess she must have a lot in common with Obama.

Posted by: fury60 | October 8, 2009 2:55 PM | Report abuse

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