Virginia Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore (R) on Tuesday ridiculed last-minute advertising efforts by the Democrats to boost Sen. John F. Kerry's appeal with voters in rural parts of the state.
Kerry campaign officials sent $50,000 to Virginia last week after virtually abandoning the state in September. State Democrats say the money will help pay for get-out-the-vote efforts, particularly in rural parts of the state, and radio ads that will begin running Wednesday.
Democrats said the radio ads may feature Gov. Mark R. Warner (D) and could be targeted to parts of the state with high concentrations of Democratic voters.
Kilgore, who chairs President Bush's reelection effort in Virginia, told reporters that he remains confident that the state's 13 electoral votes will be in the Republican column on election night.
"John Kerry and rural Virginia is sort of like caviar and pork rinds," said Kilgore, a native of southwest Virginia. "Some things just don't go together."
Kilgore used the announcement of the $50,000 in a fundraising letter that went out over the weekend. In it, he asked for help to "counter that new ad buy with an urgent contribution to the Victory 2004 Committee."
But Tuesday, the attorney general said Kerry's votes against repealing the estate tax, his opposition to the death penalty and his stands on abortion, guns and taxes do not play well in rural Virginia. And he said no amount of radio advertising by the Democrats will change that.
"I can tell you that dog won't hunt. In fact, that dog won't even get off of the porch," Kilgore said. Referring to one of Kerry's favorite sports, he added, "I know very few windsurfers in rural Virginia."
Lawrence H. Framme III, chairman of Kerry's campaign in Virginia, said Kilgore's response is evidence that state Republicans are worried.
Virginians have voted for Republican presidential candidates every four years since 1968. The last time they went for a Democrat was in 1964, when they helped elect Lyndon B. Johnson. Since then, Democrats came closest in 1996, when President Bill Clinton came within several points of Republican Sen. Robert J. Dole.
This summer, the Kerry campaign invested almost $2 million in television advertisements and a statewide staff in Virginia. Some polling at the time showed the race within 3 points, but later polls showed Bush with a wider lead.
"If the attorney general and the chairman of the Bush-Cheney campaign has to call a press conference to deal with $50,000 of media in rural Virginia, it indicates how deeply concerned they are," Framme said.
Framme lashed out at Bush's record in Virginia. He accused the president of presiding over job losses in rural areas of the state and the loss of health care benefits for 100,000 residents. And he chided Kilgore for making jokes at the news conference.
"That is the response to whatever witticisms the attorney general used to make light of the very serious plight of rural Virginia's economy and health care," Framme said. "I find absolutely no humor in a president who has lost thousands of jobs in Virginia, who has no plan for restoring those jobs."
Framme could not resist taking a jab of his own at the president. Referring to recent reports that tons of explosives are missing from a facility outside Baghdad, Framme said: "When it comes to rural economic recovery, George Bush is as lost as the 400 tons of explosives in Iraq."