President Biden stumped for former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is seeking a second term, in Arlington on Friday, painting the Democrat as the anti-Trump candidate.
Mr. Biden spoke to a crowd of roughly 3,000 people at Lubber Run Park, touting Mr. McAuliffe’s economic plan, while also likening his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin, to former President Donald Trump. Mr. McAuliffe, a former governor, is seeking a second term.
“Terry and I share a lot in common,” Mr. Biden said. “I ran against Donald Trump and so is Terry. And I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry.”
He described Mr. Youngkin as an “acolyte of Donald Trump” in his speech, mirroring Mr. McAuliffe’s push to tie his opponent to the former president.
Mr. Biden’s comments indicate that the highly competitive governor’s race is shaping up to be a second battle between himself and Mr. Trump, whom he defeated in Virginia by a 10-point margin.
Polls indicate that the race is tight between Mr. McAuliffe, who served as the state’s governor from 2014 to 2018, and Mr. Youngkin, a first-time political candidate.
A poll conducted earlier this month by the nonpartisan Trafalgar Group found that Mr. McAuliffe carried just a 2-point lead over Mr. Youngkin.
The poll surveyed 1,104 people with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.87 percentage points.
Mr. McAuliffe has focused on highlighting Mr. Trump’s endorsement of Mr. Youngkin, putting out ads that show the Republican nominee saying he was “honored” to receive the support of the former president.
“You’ve got to ask yourself, why is it that Glenn Youngkin and Donald Trump are so close? Because they share the same agenda. And you better believe that agenda is completely out of touch with Virginians,” Mr. McAuliffe said at the Friday rally.
Mr. McAuliffe touted his economic plan, emphasizing his goals to invest in small businesses and education.
The Democrat also credited Mr. Biden’s American Rescue Plan, a COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress earlier this year, which the president also promoted in his speech.
Mr. McAuliffe also hit at his opponent for pulling out of a debate set to be hosted by the Virginia Bar Association over concerns about the debate moderator choice and discussion topics.
The debate had originally been scheduled to be held July 24, a day after the rally.
“He‘s the first candidate in 36 years to refuse to debate his opponent and the Virginia Bar Association,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “Glenn Youngkin is scared to debate me. He is a chicken.”
Current Gov. Ralph Northam, Rep. Don Beyer, Virginia Democrat, and state Attorney General Mark Herring were among several other speakers who opened for Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Biden, who was the final speaker.
A couple of dozen protesters gathered nearby the event, holding anti-abortion signs or posters demanding a ban on fracking.
At one point during Mr. Biden’s speech, a handful of hecklers attempted to disrupt the event, though the president dismissed them, once again invoking Mr. Trump’s name.
“This is not a Trump rally,” Mr. Biden said. “Let ‘em holler. No one’s paying attention.”
Virginia law bars governors from running for a consecutive term, though they may run for one at a later time.
The election will be held on Nov. 2.