Politicians are usually known for kissing babies. But not R. Creigh Deeds. The Democrat candidate for Virginia governor is attacking Republican Bob McDonnell's pro-life views in a desperate attempt to woo female voters and excite his liberal base. Tomorrow he will rally with NARAL to promote his pro-abortion position.
Deeds previewed his attack for the Washington Post, telling the newspaper, "I think it's an area that shows a clear distinction between us."
At a time when McDonnell is talking about Virginia's ailing economy, transportation problems and education, it's somewhat surprising that Deeds is embracing a divisive issue. It's a gamble that even the liberal Post dubbed "risky."
The previous two Democrat candidates for governor largely ignored social issues to focus on the economy and transportation. But neither Mark Warner nor current Gov. Tim Kaine faced the same kind of lackluster support that Deeds seems to be experiencing. A recent SurveyUSA poll put McDonnell ahead with a commanding 15-point advantage, including a 60% to 35% edge among self-described political independents.
McDonnell dismissed the abortion attack. His campaign circulated a memo from campaign chairman Ed Gillespie that said McDonnell's "views on life are consistent with his faith and his belief that innocent life should be protected." The memo also criticized Deeds for failing to put forward solutions on bread-and-butter issues:
Perhaps that’s because Creigh Deeds’ polices would destroy jobs in Virginia, while Bob McDonnell’s would create them. Perhaps it’s because Deeds has a 94% lifetime rating from big labor unions and has promised to make them a “partner” in governing Virginia, while Bob has a 91% rating from Virginia’s small business owners. Perhaps it’s because Deeds can’t come up with a funding plan for new and better roads and dances around the reality that he’s going to raise taxes if he gets elected, while Bob has a detailed plan to improve transportation without raising taxes. Or perhaps it’s because he’s having a hard time getting his supporters off their duffs, while Bob has thousands of energetic volunteers rallying friends and neighbors to his positive agenda for Virginia.
Deeds came from behind to win the Democrat nomination over better-funded Terry McAuliffe and better-connected Brian Moran, proving that no deficit is too big for him to overcome.
Democrats, however, could be suffering from fatigue after flipping the state to Barack Obama last year. In local elections this year in Northern Virginia, a Republican candidate won a county board seat in Democrat-leaning Fairfax County, and two Republicans were elected in liberal Alexandria. Republicans nearly toppled heavily favored Democrats in two other Northern Virginia elections. The two victories and two close elections appear to have energized the GOP base.