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All eyes on Virginia -- and McAuliffe

From NBC's Mark Murray
There have been a couple new developments in the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial primary that takes place in less than three weeks. First, as we mentioned earlier, Creigh Deeds -- the least well-known of the three Dems -- picked up the Washington Post's endorsement, a boost for the sole candidate who hails from outside the DC suburbs.

Second, a new DailyKos/Research 2000 poll shows Terry McAuliffe with a sizable lead (36%) over Brian Moran (22%), and Deeds (13%). Caveat: This race is hard to poll, because we just don't know who will turn out.

Now comes a new story about the race in National Journal by Jennifer Skalka, who fixes her spotlight on McAuliffe.

"McAuliffe's supporters say he will bowl over the competition by launching an air and ground war (he has more than 50 field workers) that won't be easily rivaled, and that will be built on a retooled Bill Clintonesque 'It's the economy, stupid' message emphasizing job creation. Detractors predict that McAuliffe's appeal will prove quite limited, that voters will reject him as an interloper."

More: In a turn of the screw not lost on local political observers, McAuliffe is playing down the work for which he is best known -- boosting the Clintons -- to cast himself as an independent voice for Virginians. That is a tricky maneuver, given that McAuliffe is simultaneously trying to cash in on Bill Clinton's star power by appearing with him in Richmond, Roanoke, and the state's Washington suburbs... Obama's landslide in [Virginia's primary] signaled the state's lack of interest in Clinton 2.0. So McAuliffe is refashioning himself in the model of, well, Obama -- a post-partisan figure devoted to job creation and renewable energy. But questions remain: Why does the salesman want to govern? And can he win?"