RICHMOND Barack Obama won the Virginia Democratic presidential primary Tuesday after a marathon push over the weekend to gain votes in a state until recently thought to be safely in the hands of challenger Hillary Clinton.
Gov. Tim Kaine, who has enthusiastically supported Obama since the beginning of his campaign last year, attributed the success to winning over what he says are Virginias typically independent voters.
I believe that Obama … will be very strong with independents, Kaine said just before the results were announced.
He has strong views, but he tends not to demonize the opposition. Hell talk about what he believes, but he is always working in the state legislature and in Congress now to try to find partners on the other side of the aisle to make things happen … I think that could well be the reason for a solid performance tonight.
Obama, a U.S. senator representing Illinois, said Tuesday that Kaine is on a short list of people he would like to have in his administration.
Kaine said that is gratifying.
But I didnt endorse him to get anything; I just endorsed him because I wanted him to win, Kaine said Tuesday as the election results were tallied. I think theres a lot I can do as governor to help him to win, and hopefully hell have a good night tonight, and then the focus will be on the next steps down the road.
Most Democrats in the General Assembly were reluctant to come out in support of Obama or Clinton before Tuesdays primary. Delegate Jim Scott, D-Merrifield, was among a group of House members who chose to officially endorse Obama last week.
I believe he has the best chance to win and hes a guy who can make everybody come together, Scott said. The first time I voted, I voted for John Kennedy. (Obama) does have that kind of charisma and that kind of ability to inspire young people.
Jessica Lee, student liaison of Virginia Commonwealth Universitys Young Democrats, said there have been big increases in the turnout for campaign events and support for both candidates.
Although the group has not officially endorsed a candidate, Lee is backing Clinton, a U.S. senator from New York.
I think (the win) is really showing Obamas momentum, Lee said. Last week wasnt just a fluke, and it shows its snowballing. Its going to be really rough (for Clinton), and theres going to be a lot of catching up to do.
Lee said she has been frustrated that many of the Obama supporters she has spoken with are more attracted by his image than his agenda.
You ask them about his policies, and they have no idea, she said. I hope that the campaign doesnt stay at the level its at now. A lot of people are inspired and a lot of people are ignorantly inspired.
Obama and Clinton will face off next Tuesday in the primary elections in Wisconsin and Hawaii.