UPDATE: Well, apparently, he went on Neil Cavuto’s show and announced he’s still voting for Obama. While that is depressing, this is still the most tepid endorsement of the President I’ve seen in a while.
For most of the last few months, former Democratic Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, the first black governor elected anywhere in the United States since the end of Reconstruction, has been rather coy about who he’s backing for President this year. In 2008, he was an enthusiastic Obama backer, but this year? Not so much.
The cracks started showing when he blasted Joe Biden for his “put y’all in chains” remark. They were only compounded when it was revealed that he ended up, one way or another, at a Romney fundraiser in Richmond.
Now comes the big blow, as Obama has lost Wilder’s endorsement. Per the former Governor:
The classic question, “Are we better off than we were four years ago,” leaves a mixed answer for many people I meet when traveling around Virginia and the country. The grand symbol of that fact is the economic growth numbers released this past week. The projection was for roughly 1.7 percent growth, but the statistics actually came in at 2 percent.
I have campaigned for and supported the president in the past, and many people now want to discuss his job performance with me. They often note that Obama ran as a moderate — and that is the man they threw their support behind in 2008. But some look back and say that he has governed as a left-of-center liberal who did not keep the focus squarely on jobs and economic recovery.
While he doesn’t explicitly endorse Mitt Romney, you can definitely read the tea leaves here and see who he’s favoring. He says:
The Republicans endured a bad nominating process. Yet in the end, they seem to have chosen a credible candidate that many Virginians tell me they would feel fairly comfortable with in the Oval Office. Democrats counted on using ad hominem attacks to make Romney seem too unworthy and too unsteady to be the country’s chief executive because of the rough nominating process. But that has not been 100 percent effective.
Wilder’s trying to play the “above the fray” and “both sides of the fence” cards to the very end, but the message here is clear nonetheless: the first Black Governor elected since Reconstruction in any state, and a veritable Virginia institution, is no longer backing the guy he was so enthusiastic about in 2008. He’s not going to the lengths Artur Davis did at the RNC, but if you read Wilder’s comments carefully, you notice the same theme: dreams meet daybreak.
And the result is an endorsement of Mitt Romney in everything but name.