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GOP Advance, day 2

Anita Kumar

Hundreds of Republican activists braved the rainy, cold weather to spend Saturday in Williamsburg on the second and final day of the 25th annual GOP Advance.

The event -- sort of a pep rally for the party's faithful -- included training sessions about social media, female votes and fundraising and raised $180,000 for the state party.

The Republican ticket -- Gov.-elect Bob McDonnell, Bolling and Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli -- spoke at a luncheon of chicken Caesar salad and cheesecake.

McDonnell, visibly relaxed and seven pounds heavier since the election, individually thanked many of his supporters and volunteers.

"The Republican resurgence has begun in the Commonwealth of Virginia," he said.

McDonnell talked about how Republicans won the election -- by offering solutions to everyday problems -- but his loudest applause came when he promised to uphold the conservative issues he rarely talked about on the trail.

"I was a pro-life attorney general for Virginia and I will be a pro-life governor,'' he said. "I was a Second Amendment attorney general for Virginia, and I will be a Second Amendment governor."

McDonnell's wife, Maureen, and eldest daughter, Jeanine, were in the crowd. So were former governors James S. Gilmore and George Allen, House Speaker William J. Howell, Senate Republican leader Tommy Norment and four of the five GOP members of Congress. (U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf did not attend).

"Isn't it great to have an Advance where we can celebrate?'' Bolling said. "The past few of these Advances have been more like wakes."

Allen said Virginians became energized in the last year after they became worried about the proposals made by the Democratic-controlled Congress.

"You can really feel those winds shifing last year from the spring,'' he said. "You saw people getting riled up, stirred up in townhall meetings and tea parties."

The day started with a breakfast hosted by former First Lady Susan Allen and Mike Farris, founder of the Homeschool Defense League, and ended with a sold-out dinner with U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor, the House minority whip and a rising star in the party. (Several activists described Cantor as a future House Speaker.)

Posters that stated "Cut Spending" and "Socialism Isn't Cool"blanketed the Williamsburg Marriott. Bolling's staff passed out red, white and blue buttons with the words: Republican Sweep 2009, Restoring America's promise.

By Anita Kumar  |  December 5, 2009; 6:32 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Bill Bolling , Eric Cantor , George F. Allen , James Gilmore III , Ken Cuccinelli , Robert F. McDonnell  
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