President Barack Obama began a two-day swing through Virginia Friday, while Mitt Romney and other prominent Republican politicians tried to quash any dreams the president might have of re-winning the once-predominantly red state in November.
"I just want to remind everybody that in 2008, there were a lot of folks who didn't believe either in the possibilities of change," Obama said in a speech at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach. "There were folks that counted us out, people who were sure that a guy named Barack Obama could not be elected President."
"And so the reason we came together was not because we thought it was a sure thing; it was because we shared a set of values," he added. "We believed in the basic bargain that has been the bedrock of this nation for well over 200 years."
Obama went to describe the bargain as the idea that hard work can take a person as far as their dreams will allow regardless of the circumstances of their birth.
"So I ran in 2008 because I felt that that bargain wasn't reaching enough people," Obama said. "And the reason so many of you supported me in 2008 was because you understood that that dream was slipping away for too many people."
He added, "Now, I've got to tell you -- this election in some ways is going to be more important than 2008, because after three and a half years of not getting much help from the other side."
The president went on to describe the election as a choice between two fundamentally different visions about how to move the country forward.
"This election is about more than just two candidates or two political parties, Virginia," Obama said. "This is about which direction we take this nation."
The president scored a major victory for the Democratic Party in 2008, not only with his presidential win, but by winning Virginia for the first time since Lyndon Johnson in 1964.
But, in 2010, as the House went Republican, so did Virginia, electing a GOP governor, who weighed in on Obama and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney today.
"There are some stark contrasts between what he stands for and Mitt Romney and we're going to talk about those, particularly, Soledad, on jobs and energy," Gov. Bob McDonnell said on CNN Friday morning. "Because when I look at what's hurt my state over the last couple of years with this President's policies that have been over burdensome...I want people to know about it."
McDonnell and his Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling have both criticized the president for recent decisions by the Pentagon to make major cuts in defense and non-defense spending due to kick in in January of 2013.
"We are very concerned about the impact that sequestration could have on Virginia's economy," Bolling said in a statement Thursday, highlighting the state's dependence on military contracts.
"We all understand that budget reductions have to be made, but we need to make targeted reductions, and we should not expect the defense budget to carry a disproportionate share of the cuts," he added.
In his speech in Virginia Beach Friday, Obama mentioned his support for U.S. troops, his ending of the Iraq War and the killing of Osama bin Laden but did not mention sequestration.
Obama for America spokesman Jen Psaki confirmed to reporters that he would not mention the cuts in his speech.
"No," Psaki said when asked if the cuts would make an appearance in his Virginia speech. "He will talk about the importance of fighting for military families, standing up for them, how the middle-class tax cuts will help them, and what we need to do to continue to make sure they have the economic security moving forward."
Early on Friday morning, before the president's arrival, Gov. McDonnell held a "welcoming" event for Obama, joined by Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.
"To me this is about the record of President Obama, which has been dismal on jobs, spending, taxes, energy, military - compared to the vision for the restoration and revitalization of America that Mitt Romney has," McDonnell said at a trucking company in Williamsburg.
Even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani made a Virginia appearance Friday, helping to open a Romney campaign office in Henrico.
While Romney did not attend either event, he did pen an op-ed in the Virginian-Pilot blasting the president for the military cuts.
"Welcome to Virginia, Mr. President!" the tongue-in-cheek letter began. "The Commonwealth is a proud state with a proud history. Unfortunately, the defense cuts you signed into law will hit Virginians hard."
"Every service member, veteran, and military family member in Virginia and the nation will be touched by your defense cuts [while] I will work to solve our security problems, not spend my time shifting blame. Virginians know that change is coming, Mr. President. In November, they will make it happen. That is what this election is about."
President Obama will continue onto Roanoke, Virginia, later today before heading to Richmond on Saturday.
by RTT Staff Writer
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