Obama to campaign with McAuliffe in Virginia governor’s race

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Former President Barack Obama will campaign with fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the final stretch of the Virginia governor’s race.

“The stakes could not be greater,” McAuliffe said, as he announced the news Tuesday morning on MSNBC.

McAuliffe’s race against the GOP nominee, first-time political candidate Glenn Youngkin, is tightening, according to the latest polls. His effort to win a second, nonconsecutive term in office is one of only two regularly scheduled governor’s races in the country this year and is being closely watched for indications of voter sentiment ahead of next year’s midterms.

McAuliffe’s campaign announced that Obama will join him in Richmond on Oct. 23 to mobilize Virginians during early voting, which began weeks ago and runs in person through Oct. 30.

Obama rallied Democrats in Virginia’s capital city in 2017 before Ralph Northam beat Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie by nearly 9 percentage points. He’ll follow other high-profile Democrats visiting the commonwealth to support McAuliffe.

First lady Jill Biden is set to visit Friday. Stacey Abrams, the voting rights activist, grassroots organizer and former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will campaign with McAuliffe in Norfolk and northern Virginia on Sunday. Also Sunday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms will campaign with Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a McAuliffe protege.

McAuliffe initially said on “Morning Joe” that Obama would be coming Saturday, in a way that suggested the visit would precede Abrams’ events. His campaign then had to clarify his remarks.

McAuliffe stumped in July with President Joe Biden, whose popularity has slumped, according to a recent poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The McAuliffe campaign said Tuesday Biden would return later in the month.

Former President Donald Trump has endorsed Youngkin but has not visited Virginia to support the former private equity executive.

McAuliffe, who preceded Northam in office, called Youngkin a “Trump wannabe” on Tuesday and said a win for Youngkin would get Trump “off the mat” and kick off another presidential run in 2024.

“We can’t let it happen,” he said.

Youngkin has said he would vote for Trump in 2024 if Trump is the Republican nominee.

In a written statement, Youngkin campaign spokeswoman Macaulay Porter said voters are rejecting McAuliffe’s platform, “so his response is to bring in more politicians to help draw a crowd larger than twelve people.”

Election Day is Nov. 2, and Tuesday is the last day to register to vote.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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