ABC’s Michael Falcone reports:
Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello, one of this year’s most endangered House Democrats, is getting something that no other Congressional candidate has received this year: an exclusive, public visit from President Barack Obama.
The president will travel to Charlottesville, Va. on Oct. 29 to campaign for the freshman Democrat who has been a key White House ally in Congress.
Perriello is battling Republican state Sen. Robert Hurt to hold onto his seat in the state’s fifth district, which Sen. John McCain carried in 2008 even though Obama won Virginia.
President Obama has held fundraisers for other House Democrats this election season, but his trip to central Virginia will be the first time he will stump for a single member of Congress. Perriello is one of the few Congressional Democrats who might actually want Obama by his side during a year when so many lawmakers are running away from the president and his agenda.
The Virginia Democrat has backed the Obama administration on many of its most important priorities, including the stimulus, health care reform and climate change bills — three votes that Hurt has been highlighting in his bid for the seat.
Earlier this month Obama called Perriello and several other House Democrats "courageous" for casting difficult votes. "There have been a surprising number of folks who have been willing to stand up,” Obama said at George Washington University on Oct. 12 “There have just been some folks who really stood up knowing that they might be putting their congressional careers at risk. And that’s been a pleasant surprise.”
In a recent television ad the Hurt campaign calls Perriello “a rubberstamp for the Obama-Pelosi agenda.” The ad’s narrator says: "Tom Perriello, he's their Congressman, not ours.”
In a statement on Tuesday, the Hurt campaign said: “We gladly welcome President Obama to the 5th District as he campaigns on behalf of his favorite Congressman, Tom Perriello. His visit will further solidify the idea in the minds of voters that Congressman Perriello has been nothing more than a lap dog for the job killing Obama-Pelosi agenda.”
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Andy Seré chimed in with his own response to the news of Obama’s weekend trip: “Obama’s appearance will only serve as a bitter reminder that the man they elected to work for them is actually working for the president.”
In an indication of just how close the fifth district race is, Perriello released a television ad of his own on Tuesday that not only takes aim at Hurt but also mentions third-party candidate Jeff Clark, who is running to the right of Hurt and could take votes away from the GOP nominee.
Perriello won his seat in 2008 by just over 700 votes out of more than 300,000 ballots cast. Recent polls show Hurt in the lead although the race remains tight. Obama's visit was first reported by the Charlottesville Daily Progress.