When the President of the United States indicates that he would like to hold a rally during rush hour, on a weekday, in one of the most congested areas on the continent, the scheduling department isn't going to say no.
Despite the inconvenient time and location, the ballroom at the McLean Hilton was filled to capacity with eager Democrats, many of whom stood in the very same room on Election Night 2008 as Tim Kaine announced around 11PM that Obama's victory in Virginia had put him over 270 electoral votes.
Northern Virginia Democrats had been grousing and griping that Deeds had been ignoring them as Bob McDonnell--the first non-rural Republican nominee for governor in years--was actively attempting to build credibility in suburban areas like Fairfax and Loudoun Counties, areas critical to recent Democratic successes.
The Deeds campaign, meanwhile, is hammering a connection to Barack Obama, which is present down to the style of rally. Blink twice and those beautifully typeset "DEEDS / GOVERNOR" signs set in Gotham, pet font of Obama for America, become the ubiquitous "CHANGE WE NEED" signs from last year. Remember those?
They've even adopted the text message strategy, urging the assembled crowd to take out their phones and sign up for text message updates (about 15 minutes after they were all ordered over the PA system to shut off their phones).
President Obama stuck mostly with the local shtick, becoming the most recent, and possibly only, President to discuss the Fairfax County Parkway. It was clear to all, including the Deeds camp, who everyone was here to see. The Deeds signs disappeared from view, barely raised after Deeds handed the microphone to Obama.
Judging by the atmosphere in the room--listening intently as Obama spoke, breaking out in raucous applause as needed--it would seem the crowd didn't know or care about the recent public poll bloodbaths that gave McDonnell a double-digit lead over Deeds.
If there was anyone who could help counteract the enthusiasm gap caused by tired, weary Democrats, it's the man whose campaign wore them into the ground in the first place. But there is one other group that could benefit from a visit--with not one African-American on the statewide ballot this year, Democrats need to wring all the African-American turnout they can get. Will Barack Obama make an appearance in Petersburg, Hampton, Richmond? Time will tell.