BRISTOL, Va. — A Virginian needs to be the vice president nominee on the ticket with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher said before Obama’s Town Hall rally at Virginia High School on Thursday.
Boucher, D-9th, indicated that either Gov. Tim Kaine, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb or former Gov. Mark Warner, who is running for Virginia’s other U.S. Senate seat, would be a good fit for Obama.
"They would bring special qualities to this (presidential) ticket," said Boucher, who endorsed Obama in January.
Kaine may have more of an inside track because he is national co-chairman of Obama’s campaign. But Obama has appointed a three-person committee to help him in his decision.
"He will make this (vice president) decision in his own time," Boucher said of Obama. "He will select a person who will bring quality and depth to the ticket, perhaps regional balance and will help assure this ticket is victorious in the fall."
Boucher said Obama’s Bristol visit means Democrats will be targeting Virginia as a battle ground state this fall.
Before Virginia’s February Presidential Primary, Boucher said Obama had scheduled a rally in the Roanoke Valley but was not able to attend due to weather concerns.
After the primary, Boucher said he asked Obama to make a trip to Southwest Virginia.
"This is an area where people need to get to know him - I’m hopeful he will return many times in the campaign," Boucher said.
Boucher was also asked why Democratic presidential challenger Hillary Clinton – not Obama – carried the Fightin’ 9th Congressional District during the primary and why there is a perception that Obama doesn’t connect with rural white Democrats.
"In this campaign I don’t think either race or gender, at the end of the day, matters," Boucher responded. "What really matters is a candidate’s capability, his character, what he stands for, whether or not people believe he can deliver on the promises that he makes. Senator Obama excels in all of those truly relevant categories. I have no doubt that while some may have concerns reflective of a bygone attitude in this country, that is not at the end of the day going to be determinative. I think people will offer broad support for him....The Clinton brand is the most famous brand in American politics for the Democratic Party...(but) the more he campaigns in a state the better people get to know him and have confidence in what he is saying."
Obama will be good for Southwest Virginia by supporting clean coal technologies and backing rural economic development, Boucher said.
"The need for economic development in rural areas is pronounced, and it certainly is here in Southwest Virginia," said Boucher. "His program to help bring technology companies to this region, to deploy broadband and to help with water and wastewater facilities...is absolutely critical to our future success. It is those kinds of programs that I would characterize as being centrist and moderate and also in the mainstream of what Americans expect their president to do. That is his message. He will be carrying that throughout the campaign this fall, and I’m confident he will carry Virginia."