Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama campaigned in Fairfax County and Virginia Beach, Virginia, respectively, on Thursday. The candidates targeted the state’s two most populous regions impacted by the looming defense cuts Obama put on the table.
In Virginia Beach, Obama said he would work to “sustain the strongest military the world has ever known” and no veteran “should have to fight for a job” when they return. But because of sequestration and Obama’s poor economy, America’s military would be weaker and there would be fewer jobs for returning veterans if Obama is given another term.
And in Springfield, before the American Legion Post, Romney addressed a group of veterans and made exactly that argument.
Romney said “sequestration” was ” a strange proposal” to begin with and “even stranger it is being put in place.”
“I will not cut our commitment to the military,” Romney said, saying he would reverse many the proposed defense cuts that are on the table.
Romney spoke about how Obama’s defense cuts would not only weaken America’s military might abroad but would also adversely impact veterans at home.
Romney described how a million disability claims for veterans are backlogged, and how this impacts those returning from war zones who need “counseling.” Romney said there are a “record number of suicides” and those needing physical and psychological care are not properly getting it.
“This is a crisis,” Romney said, implying Obama’s cuts would make it more difficult for the Veterans Affairs Administration to adequately help returning soldiers in need.
The looming defense cuts and the recent foreign policy debacles may give centrists in Virginia who voted for Obama in 2008 reason to support Romney.
In 2008, Obama won Fairfax County, which has more than 1.1 million residents, by nearly 110,000 votes. But he lost Virginia Beach, which has over 440,000 residents, by nearly 1,500 votes.
Obama needs to hold down Romney’s margins in the Virginia Beach area while Romney needs to hold down Obama’s margins in Fairfax County and make significant inroads with voters.
Obama currently leads Romney in Virginia in the RCP average of polls by 4.5 points.
This was the third day in a row Romney and Obama campaigned in the same state. They were both in Ohio on Tuesday and Wednesday.
At Obama’s event, retiring Virginia Senator Jim Webb (D) introduced him. Webb is not running for re-election partly because Obama’s poor record would have made it tough for him to get elected in Virginia. Further, Webb gains a lot of his support from white, working class “Scots-Irish” and Reagan Democrats, and these voters are swinging toward Romney and leaving Obama, which would have made his re-election even more difficult with Obama on the top of the ticket.