Big Names Join Final Push in Governor's Race
Tuesday, November 8, 2005
About the time Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine stepped off the stage last night in Norfolk at his final campaign stop with Virginia Gov. Mark R. Warner, Air Force One arrived at Richmond International Airport, where President Bush joined Republican candidate Jerry W. Kilgore for a get-out-the-vote rally.
Each candidate hoped the joint appearances would give him an edge going into today's voting in what polls show is a very tight race.
The Democratic governor, who leaves office in January because of the state's one-term limit, is riding a wave of popularity. The Republican president won Virginia by nine percentage points in last year's presidential election, but his popularity has slipped lately. Both campaigns insisted Bush's appearance would work to their advantage.
Air Force One, returning from a presidential visit to South America, rolled alongside a wide-open airport hangar filled with thousands of people, spotlights and U.S. flags as music from the movie "Air Force One" blared from giant speakers.
Bush and Kilgore stood side by side on a stage while the crowd serenaded them with wild screams for about two minutes. "I wish my grandparents could see this moment -- for a guy who grew up on a small farm in Southwest Virginia to be introducing the president of the United States," Kilgore said in brief remarks.
When Bush took the microphone, he said, "I know a man of character and of integrity, and he's standing right next to me, and that's Jerry Kilgore.
"The thing I like about this fella is he's from Virginia and he grew up on a farm," Bush continued. "That means he's a down-to-earth person. He doesn't have a lot of fancy airs, a person who knows how the common man thinks." Bush also urged the crowd to turn out other voters, saying, "It's your time."
When it's a close race, Kilgore had said earlier in the day, "it's [about] turnout, and he can bring out the base." The president "is very popular in Virginia. And he's coming off a successful South American trip," Kilgore said of Bush's overseas visit, which drew violent protests.
Warner, who was encouraged at campaign stops all weekend to run for president in 2008, said yesterday that "if the other side wants to make the comparison about how things are going in Washington and how things are going in Virginia, I'll take that comparison."
The Democrats called on Virginia voters to use the state election to tell Washington and the nation how they felt about the war in Iraq, the national economy and a host of other issues.
"We want to send the message . . . that this election is a rebuke to George Bush and all he stands for," Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.) told a noontime rally in Alexandria with Warner and the entire state Democratic ticket.
Only Virginia and New Jersey pick their governors in the year after a presidential election. Virginia voters today will also pick a lieutenant governor and attorney general. And all 100 seats in the House of Delegates are on the ballots. Both parties expect the Republicans to maintain control of the House, but Democrats are hoping to cut into the GOP's 60-seat majority. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.