Virginia Notebook: The special guest stars speak for Deeds

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 22, 2009

As Paul Revere might put it, the surrogates are coming, the surrogates are coming!

With national attention focused on Virginia, which has one of only two gubernatorial races in the country this year, the commonwealth's candidates have the pick of their parties' national stars to invite to campaign events before Nov. 3.

It's a ritual for the final weeks of big campaigns, as famous headliners pump up volunteers, bring in last-minute donations and draw television cameras to the candidate to provide some precious free media for the effort.

But this year's roundup reveals some of the damage suffered by the Republican brand in recent years.

Consider this:

Democrat R. Creigh Deeds will be joined by those at the pinnacle of his party's leadership. Both of Virginia's sitting senators will help, one of whom is a popular former governor. He's also got Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, who is also head of the Democratic National Committee.

He held a fundraiser with former vice president Al Gore. Another recent morning, he was hobnobbing with Vice President Biden.

On Tuesday, it was former president Bill Clinton.

And next week, the big kahuna, President Obama, comes to Virginia to rally the troops.

Obama has plenty of skeptics who think he might be hurting Deeds's effort. But he did win 53 percent of the vote in Virginia just 12 months ago, and a recent Washington Post poll put his approval rating at 58 percent in the state.

And Republican Robert F. McDonnell?

With Republicans charging that Virginia has been trending Democratic in recent election cycles largely over anger with former president George W. Bush, Bush is pretty much a non-starter.

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