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A Big Name Jumps Into Va. Politics and Makes Waves

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 18, 2008; Page PW04

One month before Sen. Barack Obama selected Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. as his running mate, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe was speaking before the Fairfax County Democratic Committee.

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During his speech, McAuliffe was "adamant" that Obama select Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine as his running mate, according to the Falls Church News-Press.

His comments generated national attention because McAuliffe had been a chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign. What was one of Clinton's biggest supporters doing pushing Virginia's governor -- not his old boss -- for vice president?

Looking back, McAuliffe's comments might have been laying the groundwork for a bid for the Democratic nomination for governor next year.

The buzz surrounding McAuliffe, who lives in McLean, has been building since the Democratic National Convention.

After giving a fiery speech at a Virginia delegation breakfast, McAuliffe did not dissuade reporters from writing stories that he was interested in running for governor.

Two weeks ago, "Hardball" host Chris Matthews further fanned the speculation when he said on the air, without citing sources, that McAuliffe definitely was running. On the show, McAuliffe's exploratory efforts appeared to get a quasi-endorsement from Kaine, who told Matthews he was "intrigued" by suggestions McAuliffe might run for governor.

Last week, a "Draft Terry" Web site appeared on the Internet. "Virginia's next Governor needs to put people first," the Web site states. "For nearly three decades, Terry McAuliffe has been promoting progressive values and helping Democrats win."

On Saturday, McAuliffe spoke at the fall meeting of the Virginia Democratic Party's State Central Committee after he requested the opportunity. Later in the day, McAuliffe spent several hours greeting Democratic activists at U.S. Senate candidate Mark R. Warner's annual pig roast.

Next week, McAuliffe plans to embark on a 30-locality tour of Virginia to promote Obama. At one stop, McAuliffe will speak at a forum in Chesterfield County, where he will be the Democratic counter to former Republican governor and U.S. senator George Allen.

The growing indications that McAuliffe will enter the race have left a cloud of uncertainty over next year's fight for the Democratic nomination.

Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath), an unsuccessful candidate for attorney general in 2005, have been laying the groundwork to run for governor since shortly after Kaine was inaugurated in 2006.


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