Election 2008

Obama Sets Sights on Winning Virginia

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Warming to his role as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, Sen. Barack Obama holds two events in Virginia. He's hoping to put the state in the Democratic column this fall.


Now to politics. Barack Obama spent his first real day of campaigning as the Democratic nominee in Virginia. He spent the early part of the day in the far western corner of the state, and this evening he holds a rally in Northern Virginia and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Don Gonyea is traveling with the campaign.

Hi, Don.

DON GONYEA: Hi, Robert.

SIEGEL: And I understand that between the two events today, Barack Obama talked with the reporters on the plane. What did he have to say?

GONYEA: He did. It's his first real press conference since he secured the nomination on Tuesday night. And as you can imagine, a lot of the questions were about where things stand with Hillary Clinton, and he said that she has run a tough campaign, that the he's a better candidate because of her. He said the kind of things that he's always said about her, but he looks forward to working with her. He was asked if he's considering having her as his running mate, and he smiled and he said, we have a process in place. He says it's going to be very deliberative. It's going to not take place in the media. There won't be a lot of things floated. He said the next time we hear from him about his vice presidential pick, it will be when he is announcing a vice presidential pick.

So he was also asked on the plane about Bill Clinton. Is there any, you know, reconciliation that needs to take place there, given what the rough and tumble of this campaign has been? Would he like Bill Clinton out there campaigning for him? His answer to that kind of long question was yes and yes. He gets along fine with Bill Clinton. He's talented. He hopes he's out there working for him.

SIEGEL: Now, as the - he's not the official nominee of the party, but we assume that he will be. And as such he has real authority over the national party. I want you tell us a little about what he talked about, about the direction for the Democratic National Committee.

GONYEA: He does. We do know that Howard Dean, you know, the 2004 presidential candidate, former governor of Vermont, who has been running the DNC, will stay in place. Folks on the Obama campaign say they admire the way that Dean has used kind of a grassroots effort to really build the Democratic party in all 50 states, not just states where Democrats tends to do well. And they say that kind of mirrors the kind of things that Senator Obama has done on his campaign. The other thing is, you know, that much was made of the fact that Senator Obama over the course of his campaign did not take contributions from federally registered lobbyists. Well, because they can now assert some authority over the DNC, the DNC will no longer accept contributions from federally registered lobbyists.

And the Obama folks are getting a team in place there. The DNC, of course, will be working hand in hand with the Obama campaign between now and November.

SIEGEL: And this day of campaigning in Virginia, this presumably bespeaks Senator Obama's hopefulness about actually carrying Virginia in the fall.

GONYEA: Absolutely. It's a state that Republicans have always counted on. But Virginia has been electing some state-wide Democrats for governor and for senator. And Senator Obama thinks they can carry this state. He of course, you know, had a very strong showing here during the primaries. Even if they can't carry it, they'd love to make John McCain work really, really hard and spend resources here in Virginia.

SIEGEL: Okay, Don, thanks for talking with us.

GONYEA: Thank you.

SIEGEL: NPR's Don Gonyea, who is traveling with the Obama campaign. Today they were in Virginia.

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