By Justin Sink
Virginia Democrats are using part of Sarah Palin's weekend speech — in which the former governor of Alaska criticized the D.C. area and its "permanent political class" as unsympathetic to the country's economic woes — to attack Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and GOP Senate candidate George Allen.
“Her ridiculous comments about Northern Virginia are just further proof of what people already know: Sarah Palin doesn't understand what Virginia families are going through, and she doesn't care," said Virginia Democratic spokesman Brian Coy. "It shouldn't be difficult for any Virginian to condemn her absurd rhetoric, particularly for people like George Allen and Bob McDonnell, both of whom have lived in Northern Virginia and have spent much of their lives in Virginia politics.”
"They don't feel the same urgency that we do," Palin said. "But why should they? For them, business is good. Business is very good. Seven of the 10 wealthiest suburbs are suburbs of Washington, D.C."
More than 2.6 million Virginians live in the immediate D.C. suburbs, and the state economy is significantly dependent on direct and indirect government spending. In addition to government offices like the Pentagon and CIA headquarters, a number of technology and defense companies are headquartered along the Dulles Airport corridor. With such a tight integration between the federal government and state economy, the fast-growing region has become a political hot potato for conservative politicians running statewide races.
But Palin's comments that there "may not be a recession" in the D.C. area — in contrast to "the rest of America" — could strike a sour chord with Virginia voters.
"Polls there actually — usually I'll say polls, they're for strippers and cross-country skiers, but — but polls in those parts actually show that some people there believe that the economy has actually improved," Palin said.
Democrats in the state look poised to pounce on Palin's comments in the hope of painting the GOP unsympathetic to the economic struggles of those in Northern Virginia.
“Sarah Palin may not understand that Virginians in every corner of the Commonwealth are struggling to make ends meet, but Allen and McDonnell should," Coy said. "Their continued silence is more evidence that when it comes down to fighting for working families or pleasing the tea party crowd, Virginians will always take a back seat to party politics."
The criticism may be a familiar one to Palin. In 2008, adviser to Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign Nancy Pfotenhauer drew a distinction between the heavily-Democratic areas of Northern Virginia and the Republican-leaning "real Virginia" during an interview on MSNBC. State Democrats seized on these comments — coupled with similar remarks made by Palin during a North Carolina bus stop about how small towns were the "real America" — to attack the GOP ticket.