Obama urges Virginia Democrats to vote for Terry McAuliffe

Obama, in remarks supporting Virginia Democratic candidate for governor Terry McAuliffe, lambasted his opponent Glenn Youngkin, repeatedly mocking the Republican for a mismatch between how he presents himself and what his politics and his private comments say about it. The former president also criticized Republicans for seeking to restrict the vote, rhetorically asking, “What are they so afraid of?”

“You can’t run ads telling me you’re an ordinary old man who plays hula hoops, washes the dishes and wears fleeces, but quietly cultivate the support of those who seek to demolish our democracy,” said Obama, strikingly. Youngkin for the Republican. rally earlier this month when organizers pledged allegiance to a flag believed to have been used in the Jan.6 uprising. Former President Donald Trump called for the rally, but Youngkin did not appear at the event.

Youngkin, who ran the Carlyle Group, a large private equity firm, ran a number of ads showing him in casual settings, like playing basketball or doing housework. Obama pulled off the ads jokingly: “Whenever a rich person shows up, they always want to show you how ordinary a guy they are.”

Obama argued that the disconnect was not just about standard politics, telling the audience it showed that the Republican candidate “actually believes in the same conspiracy theories that resulted” in the January 6 insurgency or that he “does not believe it but he is ready to accompany him to say or do anything to be elected.”

“And maybe it’s worse,” he added, because that “says a lot about the character. And the character will eventually show up when you’re actually in office.”

Later Saturday, Youngkin responded to Obama’s joke about his basketball game in digital announcement recording where he challenges the former president to a game. (Youngkin, who is 6’7 “, has appeared in commercials to play basketball before and was on the Rice University basketball team for four years.)

“Forty-four, I heard you were in town trying to bail out Terry’s campaign,” Youngkin said after sinking a three. “If you’re up for a game, I’m good to go.”

At the rally in Virginia, when McAuliffe supporters booed each other at Youngkin, Obama retracted a phrase he has used throughout his political career: “Don’t boo, vote. do nothing. “

“We cannot afford to be tired.

Obama’s appearance in Virginia is aimed squarely at transforming the Democratic base, something the McAuliffe campaign and Democrats across the Commonwealth have been concerned about in the final weeks of the campaign.

A recent Monmouth University poll highlighted these concerns: 49% of Republican voters polled said they were excited about the race, compared to 26% of Democrats – a 23 percentage point drop within weeks of November 2 elections.

Obama has sought to reverse those numbers, at least in the Richmond area, a strong Democratic Commonwealth city where Obama won nearly 80% of the vote in 2008 and nearly 78% in 2012.

“I know a lot of people are tired of politics right now,” Obama said, acknowledging the lack of enthusiasm from Democrats. “Look, I’m going to make a confession. I never watch political shows.… I understand why people can get tired of politics.”

The former president added: “Here’s the thing, we can’t afford to be tired.”

Obama in McAuliffe's new ad:

The Trump card

While Obama did not directly mention Trump, McAuliffe, who spoke to Obama at the James Branch Cabell Library at Virginia Commonwealth University, has done so on several occasions.

“Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican,” McAuliffe said. “I call him Donald Trump in khaki. Do we want a Donald Trump pocket dog to be our governor here in the Commonwealth? No, we don’t.”

McAuliffe has sought to increase Democratic participation in the Commonwealth by nationalizing the race, comparing Youngkin to Trump at every opportunity.

And he continued to focus on Saturday, arguing that his opponent “has to suck Donald Trump all the time” and pledging to “be a brick wall to protect women’s rights” and “never allow politicians like Donald Trump and Glenn Youngkin to perform abortion is illegal here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. ”

The Richmond rally is the first Saturday for Obama, who is due to attend to rally for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who is running for re-election.

Both Democrats nationalized their runs for re-election, hoping to capitalize on the continued anger against Trump in two states that backed Biden in 2020. Obama just picked up an ad he cut for McAuliffe, telling voters they “ have a lot of responsibilities this year. ”

“Not only are you choosing your next governor, but you are also making a statement about the direction in which we are heading as a country,” Obama said in the announcement.

Out of power and off the ballots, Trump's influence still looms
Obama’s appearance also highlights a marked division in the race in Virginia. While McAuliffe has relied on a stable of top Democratic talent, from Vice President Kamala Harris to Georgia’s Stacey Abrams to President Joe Biden, Youngkin has largely campaigned on his own, seeking to avoid nationalizing the race in a Commonwealth which has rejected Republicans at the state level for years.

However, Youngkin aired a more resounding national message on Saturday night at a rally in Henrico, Va., Telling supporters that “the future of our nation rests in the present of Virginia.”

Earlier in October, Youngkin told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny, “I’m on the ballot, I’m running against Terry McAuliffe.”

He added: “Terry McAuliffe wants anyone but Terry McAuliffe to campaign, he invites the world to come and campaign with him.”

Trump is the most important reason. The former president lost the state by ten percentage points in 2020 and remains an unpopular figure, especially in the vote-rich areas of Northern Virginia. McAuliffe and the state’s top Democrats, even without a visit from Trump, have used the former president as the main foil in the race, seeking to tie Youngkin to the polarizing Republican at every event.

“Not once, but twice, we have rejected Trump and his anti-science, unbalanced, anti-choice rhetoric,” Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Hala Ayala said on Saturday. “But you know what …. [it’s] it’s time for us to start over. ”

And Richmond voters have made it clear that Trump is at the forefront of their decision to back McAuliffe.

“If we don’t get McAuliffe as governor and we get Youngkin, I’m afraid we have another invasion from Trump and this country doesn’t need it,” said Brenda Johnson, an educator at the 73-year-old retirement. who was born in Richmond. “Too many of his principles are the same as Trump’s, and we have suffered so much behind this administration that I am afraid for the country.”

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