Lagging in the polls, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Creigh Deeds sought to jump-start his campaign Thursday with help from President Barack Obama.
Appearing with the president, Gov. Tim Kaine and others in McLean, Deeds made his case to supporters about why he is better positioned than GOP nominee Bob McDonnell to lead the Commonwealth.
Deeds’ address focused on education, an issue he’s honed in on during recent weeks. The state senator accuses McDonnell of drafting a transportation plan that would take billions away from Virginia classrooms to pay for roads.
“We can’t afford that. We can’t afford to take Virginia back,” Deeds said.
Although Deeds never mentioned his opponent by name, he took a familiar tack, painting McDonnell as a partisan obstructionist.
“At every significant moment, when there was a serious choice to be made, when there was an opportunity for him to be about moving Virginia forward, my opponent chose the ideological approach instead of working together,” Deeds said. “At every key moment, when events or issues called for bipartisan agreement and consensus, for putting Virginia’s interests and Virginia’s future above mere partisan advantage, my opponent made the wrong choice.”
The full text of Deeds’ remarks and reaction from the McDonnell camp are after the jump.
During his address, Deeds voiced support for President Obama’s proposal to increase the number of charter schools.
“There’s no reason Virginia should lag behind on this,” he said.
The expansion of charters is a position McDonnell often touts on the stump, and his campaign lashed out at Deeds on the issue.
“Creigh Deeds, the ‘me too’ candidate for governor, has once again changed positions to follow Bob McDonnell on yet another issue,” said McDonnell spokeswoman Crystal Cameron.
Republicans criticized Deeds earlier this week about charter schools. The GOP claims Deeds actually supports measures that would scale back Mr. Obama’s charter schools plan.
The full text of Deeds’ remarks with President Obama are below. I’ll update with remarks from the president as soon as possible.
REMARKS OF CREIGH DEEDS AT A RALLY FOR VIRGINIA WITH PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA ~ As Prepared for Delivery ~
Thank you, Governor Kaine. I appreciate your friendship and your support. All of us here respect your responsible leadership of our Commonwealth, and we thank you for your service to the Party.
Friends, I appreciate you joining with us here tonight as we continue the hard work of moving Virginia forward, standing on the shoulders of remarkable leaders such as Tim Kaine, Jim Webb and Mark Warner. This effort, this campaign, will require each and every one of you, working together, to help us bring opportunity and hope and prosperity to every corner of Virginia.
By your presence here tonight, you recognize that Virginians deserve a Governor who will wake up every day with a clear understanding of the challenges we face, and a Governor who has a proven record of working to bring Virginians together to produce real results for people.
Virginians also deserve a Governor who has a detailed vision for maintaining our great public schools and our world-class colleges so we can better prepare our children for the jobs and opportunities of the future.
We need to build on what Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have already started here in Virginia – and what President Obama has the vision to advocate across the nation — by investing in quality pre-K education for every child.
There’s still a lot of room for reform. I strongly support the President’s initiatives to expand charter schools. There’s no reason Virginia should lag behind on this. We should make changes that bring innovation and greater accountability to our schools. Changes that ensure our education dollars are being spent wisely and where most needed: in the classroom.
We have a lot of work to do, but we can make sure every child in Virginia gets the strong public education they’re entitled to.
We also need to increase teacher pay to at least the national average. We can’t expect excellence if we aren’t even willing to pay for average. And we can’t expect to solve the challenges of tomorrow, in energy and technology, if we continue to fall behind the rest of the world in math and science.
We need a Governor who will encourage our teachers to go into math and science education. And who will pass a plan to forgive their student loans when those teachers agree to serve in the toughest schools in our most challenging school districts.
You know, my grandmother – my mother’s mom – proudly served more than 40 years as a Virginia public school teacher. She started her service way back in 1924, in rural Virginia. Like most women of that generation, she did not have the opportunity or the resources to earn a college degree, but she learned by reading and by doing. She proudly taught generations of young people before retiring in 1964.
And I still vividly recall the day my own mother packed me off to college, folding together four 20-dollar bills, which I slipped into my pocket.
You see, I know something about the power — and the potential — that can be unleashed when a child has access to a quality public education.
That is what has motivated my own public service for the past 18 years. That is why I stood with education leaders from across the Commonwealth earlier this year and demanded no permanent cuts to public schools. That is why I stood with Mark Warner during the historic 2004 budget reform battle – when we made the largest increase in education in Virginia history.
Before Mark Warner took office, our nation was facing record prosperity. But here in Virginia, we faced a record budget shortfall. Our state government was crippled by ideological leadership that refused to work across party lines. Our triple-A bond rating, plenty of jobs, and the future of our state were at stake.
Over the last seven years we found a different way of doing things. And that resulted in Virginia being repeatedly named the most business-friendly state over and over—seven times since Tim Kaine took office. The best state to move your business to. And the best state in which to raise a child.
And one thing I know as I travel around the Commonwealth is this: Virginians don’t want to go back. Virginia can’t afford to go back. Virginians want and deserve to move our Commonwealth forward.
That is why I stand here tonight and ask for your continued support to build on that success as we prepare to sprint into the fall campaign. Because we have come too far, we have accomplished too much together, to turn backwards to the failed vision and the misplaced priorities of the past.
I believe my opponent is a decent man, and I respect his career in public service. But I also must tell you that at every significant moment, when there was a serious choice to be made, when there was an opportunity for him to be about moving Virginia forward — my opponent chose the ideological approach instead of working together.
At every key moment, when events or issues called for bipartisan agreement and consensus, for putting Virginia’s interests and Virginia’s future above mere partisan advantage – my opponent made the wrong choice.
On the issue we’re talking about today – education – my opponent talks about his support for schools, but he has a long record of opposing funding for public education, school construction and pre-K. Just a few weeks ago, my opponent put forward a transportation plan funded by taking at least $5.4 billion dollars away from public education over the next ten years, by his own estimates.
We can’t afford that. We can’t afford to take Virginia back.
In a Deeds Administration short-changing education is not an option. I will oppose any effort to cut education and will support innovative and creative improvements to our schools.
I’ve probably taken too much of your time already, and I certainly do appreciate your presence and your attention here tonight. I again ask for your continued support and your energy and your enthusiasm as we head into the fall.
But I’m smart enough to recognize that you are also here tonight to show some love and demonstrate your strong support for our guest of honor:
You know, if someone had said to you last January – or in March – or heck, last month, or even last week– that within six months of taking office, we would see the stock market regain a quarter of its lost value, or banks line-up to repay their TARP bailout funds, or that the housing market, and other leading economic indicators, would show signs that our economy was starting to recover.
The smart people would have said that you were naïve – that there was no way a new President could navigate our rocky economic shoals quickly or successfully. And while our nation’s economic challenges remain serious, and we’re not completely on the road to full economic recovery for every family, we have come some distance to restore confidence and pride in America. And we’re not done yet.
So now I encourage you to give a warm Northern Virginia welcome to our guest of honor—to a leader that Virginia, after 44 years in the political wilderness, firmly pushed into the winner’s column last fall…
Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Virginians, with pride and honor, I present to you The President of the United States.