Politics Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe
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ARLINGTON, Va. - President Biden on Friday hit the campaign trail for the first time as a sitting president, stumping for gubernatorial nominee and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Biden used the rally - which featured Democratic candidates up and down the ticket in Virginia's elections this year - to tout McAuliffe's record as governor, as well as his own six-month record as president.
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"In these off-year elections, the country is looking. This is a big deal," the president told a crowd of just under 3,000.
Biden notably took the opportunity to echo McAuliffe and his Democratic allies in Virginia by tying Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin to former President Trump.
"I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry," Biden quipped, calling Youngkin "an acolyte to Trump."
Trump lost Virginia in 2016 and 2020, struggling particularly with the commonwealth's suburban voters.
McAuliffe and Virginia Democrats have made it a priority to tie Youngkin to Trump due to the former president's deep unpopularity in the state.
"My opponent Glenn Youngkin, well, he's not running for you, he's running for - " McAuliffe said before the crowd responded with "Donald Trump."
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What happens in Virginia doesn’t stay in Virginia. The party whose candidate wins the November governor’s race gets a big boost heading into next year’s midterms, and that’s heightening the stakes between former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, vying for a rare comeback, and Republican Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy newcomer to politics prepared to spend $75 million of his own money to win. With President Biden in northern Virginia on Friday to campaign in the vote-rich suburbs with McAuliffe, Democrats aren’t leaving anything to chance. Campaign operatives say this is just the opening round. There will be more visits.
Biden touted his administration's initiatives during the 28-minute address, touching on federal vaccination efforts, the American Rescue Plan and efforts to pass an infrastructure package through Congress.
A small group of hecklers attempted to interrupt Biden during his address before they were shouted down by the crowd of attendees.
"This is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler. No one's paying attention," Biden said.
The rally also featured other notable Virginia Democrats, including Rep. Don Beyer, Gov. Ralph Northam, Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Hala Ayala and Attorney General Mark Herring.
Biden and McAuliffe have been friends for over 40 years and have a history of campaigning together. The president told the former governor that he was "all-in" for him after McAuliffe swept the Democratic gubernatorial primary.
McAuliffe formally endorsed Biden last year after the then-presidential candidate won the South Carolina primary. The former governor then campaigned with Biden ahead of the Super Tuesday contest in Virginia.
Biden jumps backs into campaigning with McAuliffe rally in Virginia
President Joe Biden is making his return to the campaign trail. © Drew Angerer/Getty Images He will headline his first candidate-specific rally since moving into the White House earlier this year, traveling Friday to the Washington, DC, suburb of Arlington, Virginia, to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. "The President's time is one of the most valuable commodities that a (White House) has," one White House official told CNN. "Where he is spending that time is an indication of what we see as the strength of our argument with the American people.
Friday's rally could prove to be a test for Biden as he prepares to campaign with Democrats across the country ahead of next year's midterm elections, which will be his first as president, though the party of a first-term president historically loses during the midterms.
"In this election and in 2022, the question the American people are going to be asking is whether or not we're helping them and their families," Biden said. "We have to show we do understand, and we're delivering for them, and we're keeping our promises. We just have to keep making the case just as the Republican Party today offers nothing but fear, lies and broken promises."
Polls show a tight race emerging in Virginia with McAuliffe leading Youngkin by single digits. The Cook Political Report moved the race from "likely Democratic" to "lean Democratic" last month.
A Republican hasn't won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009, when former Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) was elected. Youngkin will have to balance turning out the pro-Trump, conservative base in the southern and rural parts of the state while appealing to moderate and swing voters in the Northern Virginia and Richmond areas.
Youngkin's campaign released a statement ahead of the rally this week, saying the joint appearance with Biden was a call for help.
"Terry McAuliffe must be worried about his terrible poll numbers if he's already calling in political favors this early in the campaign," said Youngkin's spokeswoman Macaulay Porter. "We'll expect he'll bring his mentors Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton here soon too, just like he did the first two times he ran for governor."
Virginia Democrats seek to tie Youngkin to Trump's election claims .
Virginia Democrats are seeking to tie Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin to former President Trump's unfounded claims involving the 2020 presidential election in an effort to hurt Youngkin in the state's Democratic strongholds.The state's Democrats are specifically zeroing in on Youngkin's participation in an "Election Integrity Regional Rally" that is being hosted next month by Republicans in Virginia's 5th District. DemocraticThe state's Democrats are specifically zeroing in on Youngkin's participation in an "Election Integrity Regional Rally" that is being hosted next month by Republicans in Virginia's 5th District.