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Wilder raises doubts about Obama in battleground Virginia

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Photo - Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder (AP file photo)
Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder (AP file photo)
Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno

Former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder, America's first elected black governor, has his own reservations about America's first black president, Barack Obama.

Wilder, an emphatic Obama supporter in 2008, said his fellow Democrat should have focused more on creating jobs during his first term and faulted the president for failing to keep his campaign promise to bridge the partisan gap in Washington.

"I think he's governed left of center and didn't focus on jobs and economic recovery," Wilder told The Washington Examiner.

But will Wilder still vote for Obama on Tuesday in a battleground state Obama is desperate to win again?

"I have not said anything differently," Wilder said with a chuckle.

In 2008, Wilder helped Obama become the only Democratic presidential candidate to win Virginia in half a century.

But Wilder said the presidential race in the state remains a tossup this late into the election cycle because many independents feel disappointment in the man they helped put in power four years ago. That has opened the door for Romney to make his case and it has been a compelling one so far, Wilder said.

"All three of the debates have shown [Romney] to be a different person than some of the ads say," Wilder told The Examiner.

The Obama campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Wilder hasn't formally endorsed Obama for re-election, though he did throw his support behind Democrat Tim Kaine in Virginia's hotly contested U.S. Senate race.

"I think that there is a need for better cooperation in Washington, and I think Kaine will be that person," Wilder said. "Obama needs to have more of that if he's to be elected. Romney has shown that he has done that when he was governor of Massachusetts working with a Democratic legislature."

Wilder, now an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University's L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, maintains an active profile on Twitter and on cable news networks. He recently drew the ire of the White House for calling Vice President Biden a "tar baby" who Obama was stuck with. Wilder was criticizing Biden for telling a predominantly black audience in Virginia that Republicans are "going to put y'all back in chains" if Romney won.

Wilder said he expects election night to be a late one, far from the Obama landslide of 2008.

"What Obama won with in Virginia four years ago was tremendous," Wilder said. "I know he'd be happy to have 50.1 [percent] today."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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