Two days before Virginia voters go to the polls to elect a new governor, President Barack Obama urged Democrats not to let up in pushing for a victory for their nominee, Terry McAuliffe.
“We cannot have people stay at home when so much is at stake,” Obama warned at a rally in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington. McAuliffe faces Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on Tuesday.
“Nothing makes me more nervous than when my supporters start to feel too confident,” the president told the crowd. “So I want to put the fear of God in all of you.”
He said “Virginia historically has always been a swing state and this race will be close. ... The question is going to be whether or not you are willing to outwork the other side.”
Alluding to the recent spending impasse that led to a partial shutdown of the federal government, Obama referred to Cuccinelli as an ally of what he called “an extreme faction” of congressional Republicans who “are willing to hijack the entire party and the country and the economy and grind progress to an absolute halt if they don’t get 100 percent of what they want.”
He added “Here in Virginia you felt the pain of the first government shutdown in 17 years and there aren’t a lot of states that felt more of the pain than folks right here in Virginia.”
The president said there are ideological purists in Congress who “can get away with acting irresponsibly,” but “you cannot afford to have a governor who is thinking the same way.” Governors have a practical job and “can’t afford to be ideologues,” he argued.
Speaking just before Obama, McAuliffe slammed Cuccinelli for associating with conservative Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who led efforts to defund the Affordable Care Act.
“It was Ken Cuccinelli who brought Ted Cruz to Richmond two weeks ago,” McAuliffe said. “He refused to speak out and tell Ted Cruz to stop the government shutdown, stop hurting Virginia families.”
All recent polling has shown McAuliffe, former head of the Democratic National Committee and a long-time ally of former President Bill Clinton, with a lead over Cuccinelli.
In the most recent survey using live phone interviewers, conducted by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, McAuliffe held a seven-point lead, 45 percent to 38 percent among likely voters, over Cuccinelli.
Libertarian Robert Sarvis drew the support of 10 percent and another 7 percent say they are undecided.
Women voters account for much of McAuliffe’s advantage, with 51 percent of women supporting him, compared to 35 percent who said they favor Cuccinelli.
McAuliffe has held a lead in every public poll since August.
But Republicans are hoping that the botched debut of the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment for the uninsured will hurt the Democrats on Tuesday.
Last year’s GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday, “You heard this morning, for instance, the campaign manager of Ken Cuccinelli say that when they were talking about the shutdown, they were having a hard time. But now they're talking about Obamacare and his campaign is doing better and better.”
Obama carried Virginia in last year’s presidential election with 51 percent of the vote.
In the last three gubernatorial elections in the state, Democrats have won twice, with Mark Warner getting 52 percent in 2001 and Tim Kaine also winning 52 percent in 2005. The current governor, Republican Bob McDonnell, won with 59 percent in 2009.