Three powerful political figures visited Virginia within a week’s time, encouraging voters to support Terry McAuliffe for governor and keep a Donald Trump-like conservative from taking office and ruining the Commonwealth.
President Joe Biden said McAuliffe’s opponent, Republican Glenn Youngkin, asserts that the number one concern in Virginia deals with election integrity.
“To win the Republican nomination he embraced Donald Trump,” Biden said Tuesday, Oct. 26 at Virginia Highlands Park in Arlington. “It was a price he had to pay for the nomination and he paid it but now he doesn’t want to talk about Trump anymore. Well, I do.”
The large crowd with hundreds of supporters holding “Terry for Virginia” signs, resembled similar rallies joined by fellow Democrats Vice President Kamala Harris in Prince William County on Thursday, Oct. 21 and former President Barack Obama at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) on Saturday, Oct. 23.
Youngkin, a former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, continues a 10-day, 50-stop bus tour throughout the state with early voting scheduled to end Saturday, Sept. 30.
As of Monday, Oct. 25, nearly 725,000 Virginians had voted early in this year’s election. Approximately 195,634 voters did the same thing in 2017.
A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Tuesday shows the governor’s race tied at 45%. However, about 5% of likely voters remain undecided with the election day slated for Tuesday, Nov. 2.
With the race so tight and prominent politicians supporting the former governor, the Youngkin campaign said in a statement, McAuliffe “is scared.”
“Virginians are roundly rejecting 40-year politician Terry McAuliffe’s plans to defund the police, strip parents of their rights to have a say in their children’s education and to fire people who don’t follow his authoritarian vaccine mandates,” Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter said Friday, Oct. 22. “His response is to bring in more politicians to help draw a crowd larger than 12 people.”
If elected, McAuliffe pledged Tuesday he would increase teacher pay, ensure affordable health care and provide Virginians paid sick and family medical leave.
“Folks, I know we can do it,” he said.
Deborah Brown traveled about three hours away from Norfolk, Virginia, to attend Tuesday’s rally. She also stopped at the rally in Richmond.
“I’m following Terry McAuliffe all over. We are just trying to make sure Virginia stays blue,” said Brown, who voted early on the first day it became available last month. “You just never know what could happen on any given day. Ask Hillary Clinton. You can’t take nothing for granted.”
Obama asks, ‘Why are you booing?’
Former President Obama stood before a crowd of more than 2,000 mostly masked individuals and summarized how the country has reached a critical stage amid polarizing battles over COVID-19, abortion rights, health care and the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol.
“We’re at a turning point right now, both here in America and around the world,” Obama said outside of VCUs James Branch Cabell Library in Richmond.
“Because there’s a mood out there. There’s a politics of meanness and division and conflict, of tribalism and cynicism. That’s one path. But the good news is there’s another path where we pull together and we solve big problems,” he said.
When Obama took aim at Youngkin and questioned his motives for being in the governor’s race, an audible round of boos came from a small group within the crowd.
“Why are you booing?” Obama asked. “Booing is not going to get Terry elected. Going to the polls on Nov. 2 will.”
McAuliffe said he’s drawn the ire of Republicans for restoring voting rights of 206,000 former incarcerated individuals during his tenure as governor.
He tied Youngkin to Trump and called him, “Donald Trump in khakis” as the crowd nodded in agreement.
“Do we want a lapdog to Donald Trump to be our governor here in the Commonwealth? No, we don’t,” McAuliffe said.
Similar to the rallies with Harris and Biden, a slew of other Democrats seeking office joined the nearly three-hour rally including Mark Herring for attorney general, Del. Hala Ayala, vying to become the state’s first woman of color lieutenant governor and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
“Think about what’s going on in Florida and think about what’s going on in Texas,” said Stoney, referring to Republican Governors Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, who opposed vaccine mandates in their respective states.
“Do you want those policies in Virginia?” he asked the crowd.