Karl Rove, former senior adviser to President George W. Bush, called the victory of Republican Bob McDonnell in Virginia’s gubernatorial race “astonishing.”
“This was a state that went for Barack Obama by 6 percentage points,” Rove said Tuesday night. With the latest tally showing McDonnell winning by 20 points, that equates to a 26-point shift.
“That’s a huge swing rarely seen in American politics. ... This is Obama’s backyard. If I were a red state Democrat, I’d be worried,” Rove said.
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He called McDonnell “a very good candidate able to articulate a positive message about the economy, jobs, spending.”
The persistence of Obama’s policies in Virginia, thanks to its proximity to Washington, D.C., hurt Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds, Rove said.
“Obama has a 50 percent popularity in Northern Virginia, but people are using the opportunity to send him a message.”
Virginians voted for Obama last year because he campaigned as a moderate, Rove said. “He’s governing to the left of that. “They still hold him in esteem, but are showing they are displeased with the direction he’s going.”
McDonnell benefited both from his substance and style, Rove said. “Bob McDonnell is a Reaganite with a sunny demeanor and a moderate personality.”
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer agreed with Rove.
“Tonight completely explodes the myth of the 2008 election,” Krauthammer said. “People talked about a new alignment, about the Republicans becoming a rump southern party – the death of the party.”
But it’s President Barack Obama’s election that was an aberration, he said. “You had a candidate with charisma, the first African-American. It was occurring at a time of economic collapse, an unpopular president and two wars.”
Bottom line, Krauthammer says: “Now we can see how ephemeral the 2008 election was.”
He noted that healthcare ranked as the second-most important issue for Virginia voters (after the economy), much higher than elsewhere.
“That clearly hurt the Democrats,” Krauthammer said. “It feeds into the idea of the Obama administration over-reading the mandate of 2008.”
Obama was magical as a candidate, Krauthammer said. “He had the country at his feet. All of a sudden people wake up, because we’ve had a year of governance. As a president in office, his administration and Democrats in Congress have given us a monstrosity: the $1 trillion stimulus and $1 trillion healthcare.”
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