Barack Obama on Saturday accused Republicans of threatening democracy ahead of particularly close local elections, which are seen as a national test of Joe Biden’s popularity as he furiously negotiates a massive investment plan with Congress.
The former president had traveled to Richmond in the state’s conservative south to support Democrat Terry McAuliffe, 64, the Virginia governor candidate who is dealing with pro-Trump Republican Glenn Yongkin, 54, prior to November 2. vote.
In front of a few hundred enthusiastic young activists, assembled at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Yugkin said Mr. Yugkin would cut teaching positions, limit access to abortion and support the allegations of Donald Trump that the presidential election was allegedly stolen from him.
“As far as I know, the main message from Terry’s opponent is that he’s a man like everyone else because he wears fleece. And he’s accusing schools of brainwashing our children. He also said he wanted to check the voting machines used in the last ballot. (…) We’re supposed to believe that Will he defend our democracy?”
Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points in 2020 and Republicans haven’t won an election in that state since 2009, but Terry McAuliffe’s lead in the polls has fizzled out over the weeks, and she’s now on the margins of error.
Mr. Obama, who remains the most popular Democrat in the United States five years after leaving the White House, wanted to rally the African American electorate, a major constituency in this southern state, especially in the Richmond area where it is one of the most important. Symbols of the country’s slavery past, a statue of Confederate General Robert Lee, was removed just last month.
Acknowledging that he understands why one can be “tired” of politics, he recalls that during his first presidential campaign that brought him into the White House in 2008, he met an African-American voter 106 years ago he had rallied for. “And I said to myself, ‘If she’s not tired, I have no right to be tired,'” he added.
“If John Lewis (the character of the civil rights struggle who died in 2020, editor’s note) is not tired, we have no right to be tired,” he applauded.
“I’m here in Virginia because I think Virginia will make the right decision in the end,” he said. “I believe here in Virginia that you will show the rest of the country, and to the world, that we will not indulge our worst instincts. We will not go back to a past that has hurt so much, we will move forward with people like Terry to guide us.”
Before Mr. Obama, First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and one of the rising stars of the Democratic Party, Stacey Abrams, traveled to Virginia to campaign for Mr. McAuliffe. The US president himself is expected to be there next week.
McAuliffe’s victory will give impetus to the massive investment program the left wing of the Democratic Party is seeking to pass through Congress. The failure could lead to more caution on the moderate wing of the party, which is still reluctant to agree to spending about $3 trillion.
Yongkin focused on schools, campaigning against the mandatory mask that Donald Trump voters hate. So far, he has carefully avoided supporting the former president’s claims that the elections were stolen from him.
Mr. Trump has not visited Virginia. He practically joined a pro-Yongkin campaign meeting on October 13, which included his former advisor Steve Bannon.
McAuliffe, raising the microphone before Obama, promised to work with “reasonable” Republicans to improve the situation in Virginia.
“I’m going to work with you, but today let me tell you one thing: Glenn Yongkin is not a sane Republican. To me, he’s Donald Trump in beige pants. Do we want a Donald Trump puppet as governor? No, we don’t!”
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