The Washington Times - October 20, 2013, 12:05PM

Former President Bill Clinton will hit the campaign trail on a three-day swing through Virginia on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, his longtime friend, starting Sunday.

The announcement came a day after Mr. McAuliffe on Saturday received the official endorsement from former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at an event in Falls Church.

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Event details and locations for the tour with Mr. Clinton are forthcoming, according to the McAuliffe campaign, but it signals an escalation in a race in which Mr. McAuliffe has held modest leads in the polls and a wide fundraising advantage.

Mr. McAuliffe, in the home stretch of the contest against Republican Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, has employed the Clintons sparingly after holding several events with Mr. Clinton in 2009, when he unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor.

Mrs. Clinton on Saturday helped fire up an overflow crowd of an estimated 800 people at the State Theater to support Mr. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and prolific fundraiser who was a rainmaker for Mr. Clinton during the 1990s and again during Mrs. Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign.

“What you see is truly what he is all the time,” Mrs. Clinton told the crowd. “He has maybe the biggest heart and the most open mind.”

She attested to Mr. McAuliffe’s energy and said he would “work around the clock” and be a “24/7 governor for Virginia.”

Mr. Cuccinelli rallied Saturday with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee on Saturday in Lynchburg. His campaign was quick to discount the involvement of the Clintons.

“It’s not surprising that Terry McAuliffe, who has been unable to present a positive case for Virginia’s future and whose campaign has been nothing but negative and false attacks, needs folks like President Clinton to speak for him. Virginians will not be fooled,” Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix said.

The appearances with Mr. Clinton are scheduled for slightly more than a week before Election Day on Nov. 5. The candidates are scheduled for their third and final debate Thursday at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.