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In Republican Stronghold of Va., Democrats Make Inroads

In the second in a series of reports on the election battleground of Virginia, Jeffrey Brown takes a look at the Hampton Roads area in the southeastern part of the commonwealth, a traditionally Republican stronghold.

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    And finally tonight, the second of Jeffrey Brown's reports on the battleground state of Virginia. The first, earlier this week, was on demographic changes in Northern Virginia.

    Tonight, the fight in Hampton Roads on the state's southeastern coast.

  • A note:

    The interviews here were done before Sarah Palin's appearances on ABC News.


    At Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott's annual Labor Day picnic in Newport News, Virginia, it used to be hard to gather party officeholders who had won statewide positions. There weren't many. This year, though, the photo-op was crowded, with Senator Jim Webb, Governor Tim Kaine, and former Governor and now Senate candidate Mark Warner.

    REP. BOBBY SCOTT (D), VIRGINIA: We could elect Barack Obama the next president of the United States.


    And Scott, whose district is more than 56 percent African-American, says the same issues that helped them get elected will help Barack Obama, even though this state that hasn't gone for a Democratic presidential candidate in 44 years.


    Health care, education, crime policy, particularly the budget, the war, there's a different vision for America articulated by the two candidates. Once people understand the real difference, they will get out to vote. We have to make sure they're registered, but I think they will get out to vote if they are registered.


    One congressional district over, at the Virginia Beach campaign headquarters of Republican Congresswoman Thelma Drake, they were just as certain that this mostly suburban district, with a large military and social conservative presence, will give its support to John McCain.

    REP. THELMA DRAKE (R), Virginia: People in Virginia, military included, look at, what are the issues? Who do I think best reflects my value system? Who's going to keep this nation safe and strong? Who's going to keep our taxes as low as possible? Who's going to grow our economy? And, in the end, that's Senator John McCain.


    One of the world's largest natural harbors helped create and then define the sprawling region called Hampton Roads, from the colony at Jamestown, not far from here, to numerous naval and other military bases. Today, Hampton Roads is a key voting region in one of this election's battleground states.

  • CATHY LEWIS, Radio Talk Show Host:

    David is on the line from Williamsburg.

    Hi, David, you are on the air.


    I just have a comment about the different sort of standards that the two parties are held to.


    Cathy Lewis is a veteran political reporter for WHRO, Hampton Roads' public broadcasting station. On her daily radio call-in show, she says she's getting a sense of the strong presidential campaign passions aroused in this region of about 1.6 million.


    Traditionally, it's Republican.

    What's been interesting about this race is that it seems that this will very much be a battleground place in the commonwealth, because the polling data that's coming out seems to suggest that this is a very, very close race in this region. And I have heard a lot of people suggest that it may turn, Virginia may turn, one way or the other, on this region. And that would be pretty interesting.

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