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 practically tied within the countdown to the Nov. 2 contest.

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

A ballot this week by Monmouth College confirmed Youngkin, 54, had closed McAuliffe’s 5-point lead since September by gaining floor with unbiased and girls voters.

Youngkin’s energy within the polls in the course of the first weeks of early voting has apprehensive Democrats, who anticipated a snug lead in a state that has trended blue in recent times. Democrats flipped the Virginia legislature in 2019 and Trump misplaced the state by 10 proportion factors in November 2020, double his margin of defeat in 2016.

Obama, who served as president from 2008 to 2016, was attributable to converse at Virginia Commonwealth College in Richmond on Saturday afternoon, aiming to spice up McAuliffe, 64, within 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 sturdy on the values all of us care about; defending each citizen’s proper to vote, preventing local weather change and defending a lady’s proper to decide on,” Obama mentioned 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.

Each candidates for governor have dug into hotly contested cultural points to fire up voter engagement within the off-year election, together with abortion rights and the way colleges handle the matters 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 making an attempt to advance a far-left agenda. A former non-public fairness govt, Youngkin has centered partially on schooling – particularly the best of oldsters to have a say of their youngsters’s education – which has confirmed standard with suburban girls, a key demographic.

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

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

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

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

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