UPDATED: McDonnell to see Obama address Hampton grads
But will they hug?
We've received late word today from the office of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell that he will attend a commencement address by President Obama tomorrow at Hampton University. Not only that, but McDonnell's office says he will greet Obama when the Democrat arrives in Virginia.
No word yet on what Obama plans to talk about in the 10 a.m. speech. But at a commencement address last weekend at the University of Michigan, the president delivered a rousing call for civility in politics. That has also been a particular theme for McDonnell in recent weeks, and the Republican's decision to greet the leader of the opposition party, sometimes reviled by elements of the GOP, could be considered a powerful symbol of the idea.
It's also something of a bold move for the Republican, given that greeting Obama (and, yes, being photographed hugging him) has been one of the leading reasons Republicans in Florida soured on Gov. Charlie Crist there. Polling way behind Republican Marco Rubio in a race for the U.S. Senate, Crist recently announced he would seek the office as an independent instead.
UPDATE: We understand from Tucker Martin, McDonnell's spokesman, that the invitation to attend Obama's address came from the university president while the White House extended the invite to greet the president on the tarmac. "It was a very gracious invitation and the governor looks forward to tomorrow," Martin said. He noted this is a very collegiate weekend for the governor, who attended daughter Rachel's graduation from James Madison University today.
May 8, 2010; 5:10 PM ET
Categories: Barack Obama , Robert F. McDonnell , Rosalind Helderman
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