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PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Obama Turns to State's Leading Democrats

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, shown with Barack Obama at a forum in Chester, Va., in August, has cut footage for Obama's staffers "to use how they see fit."
Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, shown with Barack Obama at a forum in Chester, Va., in August, has cut footage for Obama's staffers "to use how they see fit." (By Linda Davidson -- The Washington Post)
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By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 16, 2008

RICHMOND, Oct. 15 -- Sen. Barack Obama is asking the state's top three Democrats to appear in advertisements for him in the final weeks of the presidential race as he competes with Sen. John McCain in the battleground of Virginia.

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Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) has recorded a radio ad for Obama (D-Ill.) that began airing in parts of the state this week.

Obama's campaign expects to ask Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and former governor Mark R. Warner, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate, to do the same.

"We're looking to involve all three top Democrats in Virginia," said Kevin Griffis, a spokesman for Obama in Virginia.

Campaign officials hope the three men, well known and popular with different populations in different parts of the state, will send a signal to Virginians that they can trust Obama.

Kaine, a national campaign co-chairman who was on Obama's short list as a vice presidential running mate, said Wednesday that he was filmed for a potential ad in August at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

"I have cut a lot of footage for Senator Obama in Denver that I gave them all-purpose authority to use how they see fit," Kaine said.

Warner, who is depicting himself as a bipartisan leader in his campaign against former governor James S. Gilmore III (R), has not committed to appear in an ad.

"We are talking daily with the Obama folks about ways we can be helpful in the final three weeks of this campaign," said Kevin Hall, a Warner spokesman.

Webb, Kaine and Warner have been part of a Democratic resurgence in Virginia, winning three statewide races this decade.

No Democratic presidential candidate has carried Virginia since 1964, but recent polls show Obama and Republican nominee McCain (Ariz.) locked in an extremely competitive race. A Washington Post-ABC News poll late last month indicated that Virginia's likely voters are divided 49 percent for Obama and 46 percent for McCain.

This year, strategists from both parties say Virginia could be critical to capturing the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the White House. Virginians do not register by party, and many have been known to split their tickets.

Obama will make his seventh trip to Virginia since he secured his party's nomination when he holds a rally in Roanoke on Friday. McCain will hold his third campaign event in the state, visiting Prince William County on Saturday.

Webb will campaign for Obama on Thursday in southwest Virginia, with rallies planned for Bristol, Marion, Pulaski and Blacksburg. He also will appear with Obama on Friday in Roanoke.

In his radio ad, billed as an "important message to Virginia sportsmen and working families," Webb, a Marine Corps veteran and member of the National Rifle Association, recounts how his dad gave him his first rifle when he was 8 years old.

"I know my friend Barack Obama will protect our Second Amendment rights," Webb says in the ad. "So don't be misled about Barack Obama in the closing days of this campaign. . . . I trust him to protect our right to keep and bear arms."


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