Bill Clinton Joins Deeds on Campaign Trail

Deeds debating McDonnell Tuesday evening

By MATTHEW BARAKAT
|  Tuesday, Oct 20, 2009  |  Updated 7:45 PM EDT
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Bill Clinton Joins Deeds on Campaign Trail

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McLEAN, Va. -- Bill Clinton said he learned the hard way not to underestimate Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds.

With just two weeks until Election Day, the former president joined Deeds Tuesday afternoon at a campaign rally in Tysons Corner that drew several hundred supporters.

In the June primary, Clinton supported his old friend Terry McAuliffe over Deeds. But Deeds pulled off an upset victory despite trailing in most polls.

"I respect people who win and win fair and square," Clinton said. "I like Creigh Deeds. I like the way he handled himself in the primary and I like the way he's handling himself in the general election."

Democrats are concerned that a sour economy and voter apathy will reverse the gains they have made in Virginia, where they have won the last two gubernatorial elections and where Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry the state since 1964.

Party leaders are hoping Clinton's appearance, as well as an appearance with Obama scheduled for next week, will tap into the energy that propelled Democrats to victory last year.

Polls currently show Deeds trailing Republican Bob McDonnell. But Clinton said the polls failed to predict Deeds' primary victory.

Deeds praised Clinton as the man who "took care of the strongest peacetime economy in this country's history."

GOP spokesman Tim Murtaugh said Tuesday's rally was an attempt to motivate a Democratic Party base that remains unenthusiastic about its candidate.

And McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said the candidates' records are more relevant than their surrogates.

"Two names are on the ballot in two weeks: Bob McDonnell and Creigh Deeds," Martin said.

The early afternoon rally came just a few hours before Deeds was scheduled to join McDonnell in Salem for the final debate between the candidates.
 

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