Biden parades down the Potomac River Friday night to endorse Terry McAuliffe, a former governor seeking a second term whose centrist leanings in many ways mirror those of the president. The race is seen as an early measure of voters’ judgment of Democratic control of all branches of the federal government.
The president stood before an enthusiastic and largely unmasked crowd that gathered around a park pavilion and playground on a warm July night. He stressed that he shared the same vision as McAuliffe on the need for increased public investment to boost economic growth. But Biden also focused on political interests.
“You won’t find anyone, I mean anyone, who knows how to do more for Virginia than Terry,” Biden said. “Elections out of the year, the country watches. This is a big problem. “Biden noted his handling of the pandemic and highlighted the economic recovery during the first six months of his tenure, providing a window into his party’s messages as he tries to maintain narrow margins next fall in both houses of Congress. He also highlighted the relative popularity of its $ 1.9 trillion Covid-19 aid bill and called for action to be taken on its infrastructure plan, just as it has done on official visits to congressional districts that are expected to see races closed next year. .
Joe Biden participates in a campaign event for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. (Reuters)
It was a clear return to politics as usual after 2020 when Biden had to speak to supporters who stayed in their cars at rallies or comment in front of dispersed and socially distanced audiences. The rock songs and crowds in front of center stage suggested that Democrats will not campaign through Zoom meetings and conference calls this year.
Protesters against a pipeline disrupted Biden and the president shot his 2020 opponent when he told the crowd not to yell at them.
“This is not a Trump rally,” Biden said. Let them scream. No one’s paying attention. “McAuliffe’s victory in his state’s gubernatorial primary was one of a series of recent victories by self-appointed pragmatic candidates in relatively low turnout elections, which tend to attract the most loyal grassroots voters, and His career is being watched carefully by Democrats looking to shape their message for the coming year.
“This is an important test for the Biden administration. The margins are very small and he needs to be able to use his influence to help candidates cross the finish line,” said Adrienne Elrod, senior advisor for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign. , who also worked on the Biden unveiling.
“His message is simple: he’s keeping his promises on vaccines, record job growth and infrastructure.” McAuliffe, who previously served as governor from 2014 to 2018, is up against Glenn Youngkin, a political newcomer who made a fortune in private equity.
Despite the state having been on a blue trend for the past decade, the race is considered competitive. As one of two regularly scheduled gubernatorial elections this year, it is garnering national attention as a potential measure to gauge voter sentiment ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.
From left to right, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Virginia Democratic Lieutenant Governor Del. Hala Ayala, President Joe Biden, Terry McAuliffe with his wife Dorothy McAuliffe take the stage during a campaign event in the United States. (AP)
Biden and McAuliffe are similarly shaping up, as moderate Democrats who don’t necessarily electrify the party base, but who won their primaries on the promise of eligibility. Virginia’s race could serve as a health check on Biden, and the Democratic National Committee has pledged to spend $ 5 million to help McAuliffe’s campaign this year, a clear sign that the White House has prioritized the race.
Although much of the Republican Party remains enslaved by Donald Trump, Youngkin has positioned himself as a more moderate Republican in a state that Trump lost by 10 points in 2020. He has said he was “honored” by the former president’s endorsement. to your Campaign.
On Friday, Democrats repeatedly tried to link Youngkin to Trump.
“I’ll tell you what, the guy Terry is up against is an acolyte of Donald Trump, really,” Biden said. “I don’t know where these guys come from.” Biden has long been an enthusiastic activist on the road, and on the rope line, during his time as senator and vice president, emerging as a successful replacement in 2018 when Democrats regained control of the House.
But the Covid-19 pandemic wiped out the campaign for most of the 2020 race, and the events that took place for the final stretch of the general election were socially distant and rare. As the pandemic receded this spring, Biden, always the most tactile politician, has taken delight in interacting with people, spending an hour chatting with his supporters at a recent event in Philadelphia.
Aides said he was eager to do the same in Arlington on Friday. But privately, there was heightened concern about the danger posed by the highly contagious delta variant of the virus.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden would follow federal health guidelines, which do not offer restrictions for people vaccinated.
Biden has vowed to work with Republicans and has expended enormous political energy on the bipartisan infrastructure deal. But he still went after the Republican Party on Friday, saying it “offers nothing but fear, lies and broken promises.”
White House aides have pointed to polls that suggest Biden’s agenda is widely popular with voters of both parties, even though it has received little support from Republican lawmakers in Washington. But Republican strategists question whether Biden’s poll numbers would translate into votes.
While both Biden and McAuliffe have been active in democratic politics for decades, they have relatively few direct political connections, although McAuliffe led the state campaign for Biden in 2020. But their political and ideological similarities are broad.
Virginia’s out-of-year elections have always been viewed as something of a national benchmark, and “with the Democratic candidate being so philosophically close and similar to Biden, many may see Virginia as a stronger indicator than usual,” said Mark. Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University.
Current democratic governor. Ralph Northam, like all Virginia governors, is prohibited from seeking a second consecutive term. The other notable off-year election in 2021, for New Jersey gubernatorial, is not expected to be competitive, and Democrats are likely to remain in control.