by Dave Urbanski
ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — “This isn’t a game,” President Barack Obama told a crowd of 1,600 gathered in a high school gymnasium Sunday.
“There are very real consequences when you operate ideologically, the way some of these folks do.”
By “these folks,” Obama was pointing a finger at Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP candidate for Virginia governor, and his conservative Tea Party supporters. Obama said he prefers Democrat Terry McAuliffe to helm the state, as the campaign enters its final days.
In his speech that praised McAuliffe, Obama said Cuccinelli is among those who want to “tear down” the United States — a compromise-averse ideologue who prefers to “cut off funding for Planned Parenthood” rather than create jobs — and who represents a political party that he said was responsible for the government shutdown.
“Now he says it’s in the rear view mirror. It can’t be in the rear view mirror if this is your operative theory of politics,” Obama said.
But Cuccinelli was working to use Obama’s campaign stop to energize his own backers, many of whom disapprove of the president and detest his health care law. Portraying McAuliffe as a Washington insider, Cuccinelli told voters that a vote for McAuliffe was a vote in support of Obama’s health care law.
“No more Obamacare in Virginia. That’s the message we can send,” Cuccinelli said as he began a day that was taking him from airport to airport to rally supporters across the state.
The race is going to be decided by the few Virginians who choose to vote. The state Board of Elections chief says turnout could be as low as 30 percent of registered voters and the campaigns see 40 percent turnout as the goal.
“If mainstream Virginians from both parties don’t turn out to vote, you’re letting the Tea Party decide Virginia’s future,” McAuliffe said.
Turning to his Tea Party base, Cuccinelli kept up an intense focus on the health care law, knocking McAuliffe for wanting to use the law to expand Medicaid and add 400,000 Virginians to the program. McAuliffe says the program keeps Virginia tax dollars at home, but Cuccinelli says it will be a drag on the state budget and tie future governors’ hands.
“Once you get in, there’s no getting out,” Cuccinelli said. “It’s like Hotel California.”
Cuccinelli said it underscored McAuliffe’s overall approach to the campaign.
“I think my opponent is running as head lobbyist to lobby for goodies from Washington,” he said. “Let’s keep Terry McAuliffe’s D.C. politics on the other side of the Potomac.”
Here’s video Obama’s complete speech Sunday: