Now that President Obama is campaigning for endangered Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello (Va.), Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) should too, a top Republican said Friday.
Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the second-ranking House Republican, said that the freshman Virginia Democrat has voted in lockstep with the Obama administration, a choice he says will hurt Perriello among voters in the state's traditionally Republican 5th congressional district.
Cantor's comments came hours before Obama is set to headline a Charlottesville, Va., campaign event for Perriello, who backed the White House on several major legislative items over the past two years.
Perreillo's race has been one of the most closely watched House contests this cycle, and Obama's visit has thrust it further into the spotlight. Democrats hope that the president will drum up enthusiasm among voters that helped carry Perriello to a narrow victory in 2008.
Perriello voted for the stimulus, healthcare reform and cap-and-trade energy legislation, but voted against the financial regulatory reform bill, saying it did not go far enough. Unlike other endangered Democrats, Perriello has not shied away from his voting record, which contains votes for key Obama agenda items.
Republicans, however, are pouncing on the stop, saying that it shows the desperate position Democrats are in to hold on to control of the House and using it to tie Perriello to Obama and Pelosi, who are unpopular with the public.
"We are looking at [Obama's] visit as something that really brings into focus the real question in this race," Cantor said.
State Sen. Robert Hurt, Perriello's Republican foe, called the visit a "Hail Mary pass in the hopes of energizing his base," though he predicted "it will have the effect of energizing our base."
The Democratic Party of Virginia criticized Cantor and Hurt in advance of the call and said GOP policies would damage the economy.
"Most of what you’ll hear from today’s conference is more of the same, which is fiting cause most of what’s offered by Cantor-Hurt Congress is more of the same policies already rejected by voters," the party said in a statement.
The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll, conducted a month ago, found Perriello trailing Hurt by just one point.