Oct 19, 2011 1:34 AM GMT
ROCKY MOUNT, Va. — Three years ago, Democrats in Virginia couldn’t get enough of Barack Obama — a popular, transformational figure running for his first term as president.
But as Obama arrives in Virginia Tuesday for a two-day swing to promote parts of his jobs plan, some Democrats are distancing themselves from him — even in supposedly blue Northern Virginia.
Less than a month before critical legislative elections, several Democratic legislators say they have reservations about the president and will not commit to supporting him next year. At least one longtime state senator has announced he will not vote for Obama in 2012.
“He’s frustrating me, just like he’s frustrating others out there,’’ said Sen. Linda T. “Toddy” Puller, a Democrat who faces Republican Jeff Frederick in a tough reelection campaign in Fairfax and Prince William counties.
House Minority Leader Ward L. Armstrong (D), who is fighting for reelection after Republicans eliminated his district during redistricting, released a TV ad in response to an attempt by his Republican opponent, Del. Charles D. Poindexter, to tie him to Obama in the Southside district.
In the ad, Armstrong dismisses the notion. “That’s a stretch, Charles. I’m pro-life, pro-gun, and I always put Virginia first.”
Nationally, Obama’s job-approval ratings have sunk, as a stalled economy has bled millions of jobs and congressional partisan bickering has led to a downgrade of the federal government’s credit rating.
Even before the president’s trip was announced, Republicans in Virginia had been tightening the screws, aggressively challenging Democrats’ hold on the state Senate in part by tying them to the president. Recent polls and interviews with voters show that Republicans may have had some success.
“The last thing they want to do is be tied to the hip of an unpopular president,’’ Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) said. “If he wanted to help these Democrats, he would stay far away from Virginia. They’re trying to save their skin.”