ARLINGTON, Va. – President Barack Obama cast Republican Ken Cuccinelli on Sunday as part of an extreme tea party faction that shut down the government, throwing the political weight of the White House behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final days of a bitter race for governor.
Seeking an upset, Cuccinelli cast this week’s Virginia gubernatorial election as a referendum on Obama’s troubled national health care law.
Obama tore into Cuccinelli as an ideologue unwilling to compromise, while Cuccinelli was telling his supporters that Tuesday’s election will be a test for the health care law and McAuliffe’s support for it.
“No more Obamacare in Virginia. That’s the message we can send,” Cuccinelli said in Weyers Cave.
A short time later, in northern Virginia on the outskirts of Washington, Obama said a vote for McAuliffe would be a vote for progress. He said Cuccinelli wanted Virginia voters to forget that the Republican’s like-minded counterparts in Congress just weeks earlier had taken the economy, the nation and the economy hostage, hurting Virginians in the process.
“Now he says it’s in the rearview mirror. It can’t be in the rearview mirror if this is your operative theory of politics,” Obama told a crowd in Arlington.
Polls show McAuliffe ahead.
That has led Cuccinelli, the state’s attorney general who led the unsuccessful lawsuit to overturn the health law, to focus on reaching conservative voters almost exclusively. He uses his campaign stops to energize his own backers, many of whom disapprove of the president and detest his health care law.