Cantor: Obama Rally for Perriello Will Help GOP

Posted October 29, 2010 at 12:51pm

President Barack Obama will make at least two Virginia lawmakers happy as he campaigns in their state Friday: Rep. Tom Perriello, the only House Member to earn his own presidential rally this fall; and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, who is banking on Obama’s visit hurting Perriello’s standings.

Cantor said the only thing better than Obama’s making an appearance with the Virginia Democrat, who is locked in a tight race with GOP state Sen. Robert Hurt, would be if vice president Joseph Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) came along, too.

Obama’s campaign stop makes it “very clear what direction Tom Perriello has in mind for this country. That is the Obama-Pelosi agenda,” the Virginia Republican said during a conference call.

That agenda, Cantor said, can be summed up as expanding government to the point where it “becomes unrecognizable,” out-of-control spending that “puts into question whether we can continue to be a prosperous nation” and imposing new regulations that leave businesses “uncertain if they can get people back to work.”

Obama will headline an event in Perriello’s hometown of Charlottesville, one of the few liberal bastions in what is otherwise a conservative rural district. Obama took 48 percent of the vote in the 5th district in 2008, but Perriello has voted for all of the president’s signature issues, including the health care reform law. The Congressman told Roll Call earlier this year that he is “proud to have stood with” Obama, and that while some of his constituents might not want the president in their district, those are “probably the same people who weren’t real crazy about me, either.”

During the Cantor conference call, Hurt said Obama’s visit is “clearly payback for being a loyal foot soldier to the Pelosi-Obama agenda,” and said it will largely serve to gin up the conservative base.

“The president recognizes that his favorite Congressman is in trouble, so he’s coming down to lend a hand, to energize a base that heretofore has not been energized,” Hurt said. But the reality is that Perriello’s district has “a long history of supporting independent-minded conservative Democrats,” he said, and Perriello “just hasn’t been one.”