I went along for the ride and asked Deeds about the criticism, his rural roots and the importance of rural Virginia to his campaign. Highlights and a transcript are after the jump.
Deeds told me that although he’s not conceding any portions of the state, nor will he say a region is crucial to win, he recognizes that he needs “to get as many votes” as possible in rural Virginia.
He thinks he has a better shot of doing that because of his rural background. Deeds believes that folks in Southside, Southwest and Central Virginia can better relate to him than they can to Republican Bob McDonnell.
Deeds brushed off the criticism of his tour, especially that coming from liberals: “I am who I am,” he told me.
Another interesting note: Deeds made mention of his “culturally conservative” upbringing. Just one more reason why you won’t hear much talk about lightning rod social issues this campaign.
Adam Rhew: Do you think on a general level, just because of life experiences, where you’re from, that sort of thing, that you have a better chance of connecting with peopl in this region of the state than Bob [McDonnell] does?
Creigh Deeds: “Well, people in this region, in Central and Southside and Southwest Virginia, are a lot of independent voters and people culturally are more conservative than other parts of the state. Well, I grew up in a pretty culturally conservative environment. You know, I can go into areas and not just talk about the values. Those are values I live every single day. Sure, I think that growing up without a whole lot, growing up in the country has prepared me for many of the journeys I’ve walked in life and it’s gonna make me a good governor. Certainly it’s going to help me connect with people in this part of the state.”
AR: Some would say that you really need to lock it down in Southside and Southwest Virginia in order to win in November. Would you agree?
CD: “I need to get as many votes as I can from the rural parts of the state. I’ve got reason to think I will do much better in rural parts of the state than most Democrats because I’m a rural guy, because I’ve got a rural background and that’s my heritage. I think it’s key. I’m not willing to say that any part of the state is central to this election. I’m not giving up on one square inch of territory or one voter in Virginia. I’m reaching out to everybody in all parts of Virginia. I’ve got reason to think I’m gonna do pretty well in all parts of Virginia.”
AR: You’ve taken some heat from some liberals who say you’re not liberal enough, not progressive enough in order to satisfy them. What would you say to that criticism?
CD: You know, too much in politics is Democrat and Republican, it’s about left and right, it’s about liberal and conservative. I’m about Virginia. I’m about moving forward and creating opportunity in every part of the state. You know, we had a Democratic primary and the interesting thing about that primary is that that morning of the primary, I was still being attacked for not being progressive enough to be the Democratic candidate for governor. By that night, I was just another liberal tax-and-spend Democrat. I mean, I can’t be all things to all people and, frankly, I don’t want to be. I am who I am. I’m a guy who believes in taking Virginia forward and creating opportunity.”