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No Presidential Endorsements for Gubernatorial Candidates

AP Photo / Steve Helber

In case you didn’t already know from the glut of direct mail and all those door knockers canvassing your neighborhood, it’s election time. Tuesday is a hotly contested primary, and the airwaves are flooded with ads. Michael Pope has this look at one of the more controversial TV ads. 

“Tom went to Washington to take on the insurance companies and the credit card companies.”

That’s President Barack Obama during a 2010 rally to help a struggling freshman congressman who was in danger of losing his first reelection. That congressman was Tom Perriello, now running for governor. His campaign put together this television ad featuring archive footage from the president even though Obama has not made an endorsement in the primary. Robert Denton at Virginia Tech says… 

“All is fair in love, war and politics. It’s certainly not illegal. Whether it’s ethical or not, that’s up to individual judgment. But it’s very common indeed to utilize this tactic.”

When Perriello first entered the race, some people were speculating that his campaign might culminate in an endorsement from Obama. But that never materialized. So Perriello used the next best thing: archive footage from 2010. Congressman Donald McEachin calls the ad “disingenuous.” But Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says it’s a means toward an end.

“Obama remains popular in Virginia, particularly among those people who are going to vote in the Democratic primary. And so having them stand shoulder to shoulder, even if it’s a seven year old picture, series his purposes.”

Meanwhile Perriello has been critical of a new digital attack ad from an outside group hitting him for his support for a ban on federal funding for abortions. His Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam has already announced his opposition to the political action committee behind the attack ad. But Perriello says Northam should figure out a way to shut down the outside group, and make it pull down the ad.

President Trump has not made an endorsement on the Republican side either.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

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