Story by Chris Graham
Photos by Crystal Graham
The ’08 presidential election isn’t about convincing with 13 days to go ’til Election Day. It’s about just not letting up even with another poll showing Democrat Barack Obama up by double digits in Virginia and more and more indication that the gap nationally is widening even more.
“We can’t let up, and we won’t let up. Because one thing we know is that change never comes without a fight,” Obama told a rally in Richmond that drew 13,000-plus to the Richmond Coliseum this afternoon.
In the midst of a campaign endgame that has the Republican ticket of John McCain and Sarah Palin throwing everything including the kitchen sink at Obama in hopes that something will work to get their numbers moving, Obama is able to play the unity card, touting the endorsement of former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” among a run of Republican crossover endorsements that have come his way in the past week.
“I know these are difficult times, and I know folks are worried. But I believe we can steer ourselves out of this crisis, because I believe in you. I believe in the American people. I believe in the United States of America,” Obama said, emphasizing the word “United.”
“We’re a nation that’s faced down war and depression, great challenges, great threats, and each and every time we have risen to meet these challenges, not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans,” Obama said.
It’s that message of unity that is resonating with Virginia voters, according to Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, a finalist in Obama’s vice-president search in August.
“Some have said, Surely Virginia will not for a Democratic candidate. Surely Virginia will not put electoral votes behind Barack Obama. But I know we will,” Kaine said. “Virginians, hey, we love excellence. We are tired of mediocrity in Washington, an administration that can’t respond to a hurricane or can’t manage a war, can’t manage the economy. Virginians like unifiers. We don’t like the Karl Rove style of divide and conquer. We want unifiers who will bring this nation together,” Kaine said.
The famously bipartisan Mark Warner tipped his cap to Obama to that same end at today’s rally. “At this moment in our nation, we need a president that can find common ground. We need a president who understands that America can’t leave anyone behind. We need a president who will look at any good idea, it doesn’t matter if it has a D or an R next to it, we need a president who will ask us to step up not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but first and foremost as Americans,” said Warner, who is 13 days away from winning his Senate contest against Republican Jim Gilmore in a race that has him up 25 points in the polls.
“We’ve got a lot of challenges in this country. We’ve got the challenge of fighting two wars at once, of too many folks wondering if they’re going to have a job tomorrow, whether they’re going to be able to pay the mortgage, whether their kids are going to be able to get a student loan. And they’ve watched the financial meltdown on Wall Street and Main Street. Are you ready to change that? Barack Obama will change that,” Warner said.
Unity was one theme today. Another was the economy. Virginia Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott talked up the specifics of Obama’s economic plan, which focuses on providing tax cuts for 95 percent of American families and does so without putting pressure on the budget as in the President Bush era by rolling back tax cuts for the superwealthy that were a staple of Bush’s failed economic-growth strategy.
“Barack Obama has a plan that is fiscally responsible, will create jobs, will balance the budget, fund health care, and he does this by eliminating tax cuts for the rich, and using that money for tax cuts for 95 percent,” said Scott, who serves on the House Budget Committee.
“That’s a responsible plan for America, and the last time we did that was when Bill Clinton did it, and he created 20 million jobs, the Dow Jones industrial average more than tripled, and he balanced the budget in four years, and we had enough surplus to pay off the national debt held by the public by this year,” Scott said.