Theories about the reasons for Creigh Deeds’ lackluster campaign and inability to motivate or connect with voters have been flying fast and furious this week. As long as Deeds continues to trail in the polls, those unanswered questions will continue to pop up over the next 21 days. Indeed, the longer the second-guessing goes on, the harder it will become to reassure his supporters that a viable path to victory remains open. Yet, when it comes down to it, this election is going to be won or lost on one simple concept: Leadership.
As the Commonwealth and nation endures prolonged economic difficulty, mounting collective debt, rising uncertainty about the future, and anxiety about a potentially dramatic shift in our nation’s historical skepticism towards big government, folks are looking to be reassured that the public institutions we do value are being placed in capable hands. Especially in Virginia, where we relish our role as a nation unto ourselves and a trend-setter for our brother and sister States, the task of selecting a new Governor every four years is one that brings with it a weighty sense of responsibility.
That is why I believe Virginia voters have been drawn to the campaign and approach towards governance embodied by Bob McDonnell. McDonnell’s raft of bullet-pointed policy proposals and confident experience are reassuring to Virginians who are experiencing quite a bit more uncertainty this year than they were just a few short years ago. While they may not agree with him on every issue, they can see that McDonnell is someone who welcomes a challenge and relishes finding a solution.
Undoubtedly, Bob McDonnell learned in his time as an Army Officer that the worst decision you can make is no decision at all. Unfortunately, Creigh Deeds has made “no decisions” his unofficial campaign theme. In a time of uncertainty, voters want to know that you are willing to make tough choices, even at the risk of making the wrong one. What they don’t want to hear is that you are unwilling to make any choice, or that your choice is to stall, delay, or appoint a commission to study the problem.
In last night’s debate, we heard nothing new of substance from Creigh Deeds. Attacks, negativity and vague promises have defined the Deeds campaign thus far, and it appears that is the formula he intends to ride to Election Day. Judging by the way the Virginia electorate has responded to that message thus far, it appears that, by the time Creigh decides what kind of leader he wants to be, the voters of Virginia will have already decided that Bob McDonnell is the kind of leader they want.