Former Virginia Governor Wilder Abandons Obama

Former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, a Democrat who supported Barack Obama in 2008, has essentially abandoned him in 2012 by failing to endorse him this time around.

Indeed, a careful reading of his high praise for Mitt Romney and tough criticism of Obama suggests that Wilder has all but endorsed Obama's Republican rival this election. 

The news of Wilder's non-endorsement is huge in the key swing state of Virginia, where polls already show Romney surging into a slight, but reliable lead.

As the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported on Sunday:

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who backed Democrat Barack Obama for president in 2008, did not endorse Obama or Republican Mitt Romney in an opinion column released days before the election.

"I have campaigned for and supported the president in the past and many people now want to discuss his job performance with me," Wilder writes in a column for Reuters.

"They often note that Obama ran as a moderate — and that is the man they threw their support behind in 2008. But some look back and say that he has governed as a left-of-center liberal who did not keep the focus squarely on jobs and economic recovery.

"Is that group of independent-minded voters enough to swing Virginia's 13 electoral votes away from Obama on Tuesday? The race is so close, we will have to wait until November 6 for a definitive answer. But for a state Obama may need to win, that uncertainty after almost four years on the job cannot be a great comfort to his campaign operatives."

Wilder does not expressly back Romney, but he says the Republican has met the test to be president.

"The Republicans endured a bad nominating process. Yet in the end, they seem to have chosen a credible candidate that many Virginians tell me they would feel fairly comfortable with in the Oval Office.

"Democrats counted on using ad hominem attacks to make Romney seem too unworthy and too unsteady to be the country's chief executive because of the rough nominating process. But that has not been 100 percent effective.

Will it be effective enough? We'll find out on Tuesday."

Wilder, who served as governor from 1990-94 and as mayor of Richmond from 2005-09 has a long history of breaking with fellow Democrats.

The first African-American governor of a southern state since Reconstruction, Wilder is highly respected by Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike throughout all geographical areas of Virginia. 


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