With one day until the 2008 election, Virginia Democratic representatives spoke in the theater at Virginia Commonwealth University's Student Commons to encourage voter turnout and endorse Democrat Mark Warner for U.S. Senate and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
"I've been telling people that Obama voters, Democratic voters, are going to stand in line as long as it takes," Congressman Robert C. "Bobby" Scott said. "And the McCain people are going to think, 'We're going to lose anyway, so we may as well go home.'
"And while we're looking at that ticket, we need to make sure we elect our next U.S. Senator, Mark Warner," he said.
Other speakers at the event included Warner, Virginia House of Delegates member Jennifer L. McClellan, and Gov. Timothy M. Kaine.
The speakers stood together on stage to reinforce the message that Virginia was an influential state in the coming election.
Virginia will be a very close race, Kaine said, saying it was likely that the candidate who won Virginia would be the next president of the United States.
"Nobody has trusted Virginia in presidential politics for a long time in the way Barack Obama has," Kaine said. "We are a fly-over state in presidential politics. We are not competitive and haven't been competitive. Democratic candidates say, 'Why bother?' Republican candidates say, 'We don't need to come.'
"Obama could have done exactly that. But that's not what he did. He spent 11 days in Virginia since he became the presidential nominee. [Joe] Biden spent seven days since he became vice presidential nominee."
Obama started his campaign in Bristol, Va., and will end tonight in Manassas, Va., Kaine said.
He then introduced Warner. The two have been friends since 1980 when they met at a party at Harvard Law School, Kaine said.
Warner took the stage amid cheers from a largely student audience, many of who delivered a standing ovation and enthusiastically waved banners that read, "Mark Warner for Senate."
With one day left in the campaign season, Warner said he was happy for the election to be finished.
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"I can say that as I stand before you 25 hours out," Warner said, "that when the polls close in Virginia, I am more confident and more sure than ever, that Barack Obama will be our next president of the United States."
"While we're there, I'd really like a job, too," he said, citing his credentials as governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006.
During his term, Governing Magazine named Virginia the best managed state in the nation. Forbes also named Virginia the best state for business based on its tax structure, education system and the fiscal management the Warner administration had put in place.
"Virginia inherited an incredible fiscal mess from my Republican predecessor who happens to be my opponent Jim Gilmore," Warner said. "For those first few years, we had to make hard choices and we had to dig Virginia out of this fiscal ditch. Who could have imagined that digging Virginia out of a fiscal ditch left over by a Republican administration proved to be the best training possible for a U.S. Senator come January?"
The United States must do what's necessary to ensure that America maintains its competitive edge, Warner said, to make sure that America has the best workforce in the world.
As the governor who made the largest investment in higher education in the history of Virginia, Warner said he would create a plan in Washington to make higher education affordable.
To remedy the financial market, Warner also suggested encouraging the nation to establish a domestic auto base through funding by the government and Fortune 500 companies.
"We need to tell carmakers to produce vehicles that will give us 100 miles per gallon," Warner said. "We need to develop that with American technology and they have to be built by American workers. In three years, we could be selling cars to China and Japan rather than the other way around."
In order to achieve these goals, Warner said Republicans and Democrats would have to work together in Washington. He said this collaboration was evident in Virginia because more than half of his supporters were Republican and Independent officials.
Robert Michael Mohler, president of the Virginia Professional Firefighters, said that he thought Warner could be president within the next eight years.
"I think Warner has the ability to work across party lines which he demonstrated in Virginia," Mohler said. "He would be a good bid as president."
But in this election, the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters support Obama, as was evident by the scattered distribution of yellow T-shirts and pins in the audience that read, "Firefighters for Obama and Biden."
"I want to see a landslide in this election," Mohler said, "because I'm very interested in our country's place in the world."
Mohler's beliefs were consistent with the general mood of the rally.
Said Kaine: "We are on the verge of a truly historic win."
Contact staff writer Carly Gorga at firstname.lastname@example.org
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