The White House on Wednesday downplayed reports that few Democrats are attending his events in Virginia, and that the president’s schedule was changed after prominent members of the party asked him to avoid swing districts where he is less popular.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said the events — in Emporia and Hampton on Tuesday and Wednesday — have been attended by Democrats and Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell (R).
“As we have made clear, the president is out here talking about the need for Congress to pass the elements of the American Jobs Act, the provisions from that act that will help put Americans back to work and grow the economy,’’ Carney told reporters traveling with the president on his bus tour. “So he is not out here campaigning for himself or for other candidates.”
Less than a month before Virginia’s legislative elections, several Democratic legislators say they have reservations about the president and will not commit to supporting him next year. At least one longtime state senator has announced he will not vote for Obama in 2012.
But Carney said that some of the reporting “has been a little off base’’ — including stories about Tim Kaine, the former governor and U.S. Senate candidate, who did not attend his events this week.
“I saw something about Governor Kaine that seemed to miss the fact that we were just in Richmond a few weeks ago and Governor Kaine spoke at an event with the president,’’ Carney said.
Obama began his three-day bus tour Monday in North Carolina and is continuing in Virginia — two critical swing states he carried in 2008 that remain just as important in 2012.
The White House had considered stops in Danville, Newport News, Charlottesville and Fredericksburg. But prominent Democrats in Virginia — where Obama’s approval rating hovers around 50 percent — encouraged the White House to alter the schedule so he would no longer visit districts where members of his party were involved in tight elections.
“I haven’t seen those reports and I’m not aware of that,’’ Carney said. “I mean, there are always — as we plan these trips, a lot of factors that go into them, and schedules are changed for much more prosaic reasons than that that have to do with pure logistics.”
About 2,400 people attended the event Wednesday morning at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.
Several Democratic legislators were present, including Sens. John C. Miller (D-Newport News) and Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton) and Dels. Mamye E. BaCote (D-Newport News) and Jeion A. Ward (D-Hampton). In his remarks, Obama mentioned McDonnell and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), who were in attendance.
Obama’s last stop in Virginia will be Wednesday afternoon at a fire station in Chesterfield County outside Richmond.