Va. Dems come to political aid of Obama

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Steve Contorno

RICHMOND — President Obama is dispatching Virginia Democrats to counter Republican assaults on his administration as part of a nationwide effort to boost the president's accomplishments ahead of the November election.

Obama’s campaign announced a new website Monday to accompany the rollout, barackobama.com/truthteam, aimed at highlighting his record and responding to attacks.

Virginia’s three Democratic congressmen, the state Democratic chairman, a handful of lawmakers and some local party members will serve as surrogates for Obama on the campaign trail, including rallies planned for each of the state's 11 congressional districts.

Virginia is one of 13 swing states in which Obama is setting up truth squads. The other states include Iowa, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio.

The Obama campaign sent a clear sign it still sees former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as the likely Republican nominee and the president's biggest threat. The new “truth team” frequently ripped Romney during their brief remarks and mentioned no other candidate, despite former Sen. Rick Santorum’s momentum coming off a trio of nominating contest victories.

“Not surprisingly, we’ve already found in this election cycle that Mitt Romney, his Republican allies and the special interest groups that support them will say anything, no matter how untrue or over-the-top it is, to win,” said Sen. Don McEachin, D-Henrico, the minority caucus whip.

The public embrace of Obama from Virginia lawmakers is a stark contrast with last fall when Democrats were more likely to reference their work with Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell in campaign literature than the incumbent president, and it comes at a time when Obama’s job approval rating in the commonwealth is at its highest point in six months.

Those now working for the Obama campaign have been his biggest supporters, even when his popularity hit a record low in 2011. However, several key names were noticeably absent, including the state's top-ranked Democrat, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, and the top Democrat in the state legislature, Senate Minority Leader Dick Saslaw.

Monday’s speakers were quick to hit McDonnell for stepping up his rhetoric against Obama in recent weeks. McDonnell gave a high-profile speech slamming the Democratic president during Friday’s Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington and followed it by delivering the weekly Republican radio address bashing the president's upcoming budget release.

In a recent CNN appearance, McDonnell also said that the improvements in the nation’s economy were the result of Republican governors, not Obama.

“That’s laughable,” said Sen. John Edwards, D-Roanoke.

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