White House in spat with Virginia Dem candidate

With a Democrat's gubernatorial candidate looking doomed, a fight starts over blame

By Alex Koppelman
October 24, 2009 3:15AM (UTC)
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At the moment, it seems like it'll take a miracle for Democrat Creigh Deeds to be elected as Virginia's next governor early next month. And that's despite the fact that the incumbent is a Democrat, as was the governor before him -- not to mention that President Obama won the state last fall.

You can be sure, then, that if and when Deeds loses, there'll be a swarm of pundits rushing to attribute the defeat to Obama and the way Virginia has reacted to his administration, not to Deeds. So it's not surprising that the White House would want to distance itself from the stench of defeat, and start laying the blame squarely at Deeds' feet. Still, it's more polite to at least wait until a member of your own party actually loses before you start trashing him in public.


That's not what White House officials are doing, however. Instead, the Deeds campaign was greeted on Friday with a story in the Washington Post that had national Democrats burying the candidate's corpse, and delivering some very unflattering eulogies. One unnamed "senior administration official" was even quoted as saying, "Obama, [incumbent Gov. Tim] Kaine and others had drawn a road map to victory in Virginia. Deeds chose another path." Another anonymous senior administration official criticized the Deeds campaign for not using the president more often and more efficiently, especially in order to increase African American voter turnout.

Deeds' supporters, unsurprisingly, weren't pleased. One of them, Virginia strategist Mudcat Saunders, told CNN, "For them to say if he had listened to us they would win, that's chickenshit. That's Monday morning quarterbacking."

Saunders went on to attack the White House itself for airing dirty laundry this way, saying, "It's a goddamn shame when our center of government, the White House, won't talk on the record. I discount all of it. It's a lack of courage. And it goes against transparency that Obama told us last year was going to come out of the White House. Anybody who makes anonymous quotes out of the White House should be fired."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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