Obama stumps for Virginia candidate in race seen as referendum on Biden By Reuters


© 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 on Saturday joins a roster of high-profile Democrats campaigning for Virginia governor candidate Terry McAuliffe, simply days forward of a decent, closely-watched election.

Opinion polls present McAuliffe, who served as Virginia’s governor from 2014 to 2018, and Republican Glenn Youngkin almost tied in the countdown to the Nov. 2 contest.

The race is seen as a barometer of the nation’s political course after Joe Biden, a Democrat, received the presidency over Republican Donald Trump a 12 months in the past.

A ballot this week by Monmouth University https://www.monmouth.edu/polling-institute/reports/monmouthpoll_VA_102021 confirmed Youngkin, 54, had closed McAuliffe’s 5-point lead since September by gaining floor with impartial and ladies voters.

Youngkin’s energy in the polls throughout the first weeks of early voting has fearful Democrats, who anticipated a cushty lead in a state that has trended blue in current years. Democrats flipped the Virginia legislature in 2019 and Trump misplaced the state by 10 share factors in November 2020, double his margin of defeat in 2016.

Obama, who served as president from 2008 to 2016, was attributable to communicate at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond on Saturday afternoon, aiming to spice up McAuliffe, 64, in the ultimate leg of the race. Biden is slated to marketing campaign with McAuliffe subsequent week.

In a tv advert broadcast on Wednesday, Obama backed McAuliffe’s stances on local weather change, abortion rights and voting rights.

“I watched Terry stand strong on the values we all care about; protecting every citizen’s right to vote, fighting climate change and defending a woman’s right to choose,” Obama stated of the previous governor.

The serving governor, Ralph Northam, a Democrat, can’t 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.

Both candidates for governor have dug into hotly contested cultural points to fire up voter engagement in the off-year election, together with abortion rights and the way faculties handle 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 attempting to advance a far-left agenda. A former personal fairness government, Youngkin has targeted in half on training – particularly the appropriate of fogeys to have a say in their youngsters’s education – which has confirmed standard with suburban ladies, a key demographic.

Youngkin was kicking off a bus tour on Saturday in Henrico, Virginia, touting his agenda to construct momentum in the ultimate days of campaigning.

He has walked a nice line between welcoming Trump’s endorsement and distancing himself from the previous president’s false declare that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Last week, Youngkin dissociated himself from a rally held to assist him, which was headlined by longtime Trump aide Steve Bannon and Trump himself, who spoke by cellphone. At the occasion, attendees pledged allegiance to a flag that occasion leaders stated was current on Jan. 6, when Trump supporters led an assault on the U.S. Capitol.

Youngkin issued a press release saying it was “weird and wrong” to pledge allegiance to a flag with Jan. 6 connections.

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