© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Candidate for Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe speaks throughout his marketing campaign rally in Dumfries, Virginia October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
By Gabriella Borter
RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) -Former U.S. President Barack Obama urged Virginians to re-elect Terry McAuliffe as governor at a rally on Saturday, emphasizing the race’s significance as an indicator of the nation’s political course and a mirrored image of its values.
Obama and McAuliffe, who served because the state’s governor from 2014 to 2018, spoke earlier than a cheering crowd at Virginia Commonwealth College in Richmond with simply 10 days to go earlier than the carefully watched, tight Nov. 2 election.
The off-year race is seen as a barometer of how the nation would possibly resolve the 2022 midterm elections, which can resolve which social gathering controls Congress, and a referendum on Democrat Joe Biden’s presidency.
Obama informed the gang the Virginia election represented a nationwide “turning level,” the place Individuals might both turn out to be extra embattled within the divisive politics that characterised Republican Donald Trump’s presidency and which culminated in an assault by Trump’s supporters on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, or “pull collectively” to “clear up large issues.”
“I imagine you, proper right here in Virginia, are going to point out the remainder of the nation and the world that we’re not going to bask in our worst instincts,” Obama mentioned. “We’re not going to return to the chaos that did a lot harm. We’ll transfer ahead with folks like Terry main the way in which.”
McAuliffe informed the gang the election was too necessary to sit down out, with a number of key points on the poll.
“This election is concerning the subsequent chapter of Virginia and our nation. … It is about main us out of this pandemic, maintaining our financial system sturdy, defending voter rights, defending abortion rights and a lot extra,” he mentioned.
Opinion polls present McAuliffe, 64, and Republican Glenn Youngkin, 54, almost tied. A ballot this week by Monmouth College https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reviews/monmouthpoll_VA_102021 confirmed Youngkin had closed McAuliffe’s 5-point lead since September by gaining floor with impartial and ladies voters.
Youngkin’s energy within the polls through the first weeks of early voting has frightened Democrats, who anticipated a snug lead in a state that has trended blue lately. Democrats flipped the Virginia legislature in 2019 and Trump misplaced the state by 10 proportion factors in November 2020, double his margin of defeat in 2016.
Melody Pearce, 50, a medical nurse investigator who attended Saturday’s rally for McAuliffe, mentioned the polls made her nervous.
“After the election of President Biden I believed we’d have the ability to exhale for a minute,” she mentioned. “I am afraid folks is not going to come out to vote and lose enthusiasm.”
Democratic Nationwide Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison informed reporters at Saturday’s occasion he was assured that Virginians would go to the polls and ship a victory for McAuliffe.
“On the finish of the day, it is about turnout,” he mentioned. “If we get the Democrats to end up, we win.”
The serving governor, Ralph Northam, a Democrat, can not search re-election as a result of the state bars governors from serving consecutive phrases. McAuliffe can run as a result of he left workplace in 2018.
Each candidates for governor have dug into hotly contested cultural points to fire up voter engagement, together with abortion rights and the way faculties deal with the subjects of race and racism with college students.
McAuliffe has sought to color Youngkin as a far-right extremist and align him with Trump, who has endorsed the Republican candidate.
In flip, Youngkin has steered that McAuliffe is making an attempt to advance a far-left agenda. A former non-public fairness government, Youngkin has targeted partially on training – particularly the suitable of oldsters to have a say of their kids’s education – which has confirmed in style with suburban ladies, a key demographic.
Youngkin has walked a tremendous line between welcoming Trump’s endorsement and distancing himself from the previous president’s false declare that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.
Obama condemned Youngkin on Saturday for strolling that line, and mentioned it mirrored poorly on his character.
“Both he really believes in the identical conspiracy theories that resulted in a mob, or he does not imagine it however he is prepared to go together with it to say or do something to get elected. And possibly that is worse,” Obama mentioned.
Final week, Youngkin dissociated himself from a rally held to help him, which was headlined by longtime Trump aide Steve Bannon and Trump himself, who spoke by cellphone. On the occasion, attendees pledged allegiance to a flag that occasion leaders mentioned was current on Jan. 6 when Trump supporters led an assault on the U.S. Capitol.
Youngkin issued an announcement saying it was “bizarre and unsuitable” to pledge allegiance to a flag with Jan. 6 connections.