Former President Barack Obama Stumps for Gubernatorial Hopeful Terry McAuliffe in Richmond


Former President Barack Obama joined Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in Virginia’s capital on Saturday. From the steps of a library in the center of Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), McAuliffe, Obama, and other top Virginia Democrats reminded the young crowd of key Democratic victories, including expanded abortion access, felon voting rights restoration, Medicaid expansion, and legalizing gay marriage. Threatening that progress, they said, is GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

McAuliffe said he would work for Virginians in a bipartisan way.

“It doesn’t matter to me what your party persuasion is,” McAuliffe said. “If you’re a reasonable Republican, you’ll work with me on all these things, I’ll work with you. But let me make one thing perfectly clear today: Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican.”

The crowd responded with enthusiastic boos when the speakers referenced GOP policy.

Obama told the crowd, “Don’t boo, vote!”

Walking into the event, the crowd was pressed to volunteer for Democratic get-out-the-vote activities, a theme that was carried by the speakers.

“So I understand why people might be tired of politics and the arguments and the tweets, and the back, and the forth. And some of you are just plain tired. Because this has been hard. I understand why people are frustrated,” Obama said.

But he said, “We can’t afford to be tired because of these young people right here, and the young people that are coming.”

“We are on track to have the largest turnout in a non-presidential year here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You all know what’s at stake. I need your help,” McAuliffe said. “You need to join this campaign. I need you to help me get this vote out. It is so important.”

Attorney General Mark Herring and lieutenant governor candidate Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) also spoke.

Other speakers included Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia), Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA-03), Congressman Donald McEachin (D-VA-04), Governor Ralph Northam, and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

Liberation Party gubernatorial candidate Princess Blanding and her supporters were present outside the event, speaking with attendees

But Obama’s presence was a major event, especially for some of the VCU students.

“I’ve never seen the president before, I was like, ‘Oh my God,'” VCU undergrad Jamie O. Nervil said. “That was definitely the main reason I came. I mean, I support Terry McAuliffe, too, but I definitely came here for Obama.”

She said Democrats’ messages on issues ranging from abortion to the environment resonate with her and others in Richmond.

“My experience living here in Richmond, I’ve been here about four or five years now, is that this is a very lively city. It is very open minded, liberal, really friendly, progressive city,” she said. “It’s a liberal, leftist haven.”

Republicans have called the visits of Obama and other Democratic luminaries as signs of Democratic desperation. Polling shows an increasingly close race, and although campaigns traditionally hype the risk of a loss to boost voter and donor engagement, some see an extra note of panic in the Democratic messaging.

But McAuliffe is a long-time Democratic leader, and the presence of Obama may speak as much to the position of both as key voices of the modern Democratic party.

“It can be viewed in both ways,” Richmond resident Charity said. “I’ve followed Virginia politics a lot, I think that he probably was destined to come, given the fact that I think he and Terry already have a relationship politically.”

Kate Ballen came from Charlottesville to attend the rally. She helped canvass for Democratic candidates in Georgia before the special election, and she commented on the Democrats’ get-out-the-volunteers push.

She said, “I’ve been slacking this year. But it’s like, put your money where your mouth is. You say you care about this stuff, then show us that you care about this stuff.”

“It’s like what Terry said. It’s all on the line. It’s always all on the line,” Ballen said.

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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photos by Eric Burk.




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One Thought to “Former President Barack Obama Stumps for Gubernatorial Hopeful Terry McAuliffe in Richmond”

  1. John Bumpus

    Everyone just step back, take a deep breath, and take a good long look at what is happening here! Obama, Harris, et al. are coming to Virginia to ‘turn out’ the black vote in behalf of McAuliffe who is lagging in the polls. It is these D’rats who are the racists, Racists, RACISTS, is it not? IT IS THE D’RATS WHO ARE ‘STIRRING UP’ RACIAL ANIMUS FOR POLITICAL PURPOSES BECAUSE ‘YOU’LL CANNOT LET WHITEY WIN THIS ELECTION!’ IS THIS NOT EXACTLY WHAT IS HAPPENING?!