President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were quiet Wednesday morning after both had wrongly predicted that Democrat Terry McAuliffe would win Virginia’s governor race.
Mr. Biden returned to Washington around 2 a.m. Wednesday after a five-day trip to Europe that included a meeting with Pope Francis and the United Nations climate conference.
The president appeared dejected as he stepped off Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, more than a half-hour after the Virginia gubernatorial election had been called. He declined to answer questions about the election results.
Mr. Biden has no public events scheduled for Wednesday so it is unclear if or when he will address the Democrats’ devastating election results.
Mr. Biden initially had no public events Wednesday. Later in the day, the White House announced he would speak about vaccinating children against COVID-19.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Republican Glenn Youngkin, a retired businessman and political newcomer, won the governor’s race in Virginia, which Mr. Biden had captured by 10 points just a year ago.
In New Jersey, Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy was deadlocked in an unexpectedly tight race with Republican Jack Ciattareilli. A victor still hasn’t been called in the race.
Just hours before the polls closed, Mr. Biden had forecast a victory for both Democratic candidates, although he acknowledged that the races were closer than his party would like.
“I think we’re going to win in Virginia,” Mr. Biden told reporters while attending the U.N. climate conference in Scotland.
“It’s very close. It’s about who shows up, who turns out,” Mr. Biden said. “We all knew from the beginning it was going to be a tight race, and it is tight. It’s going to come down to turnout.”
Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris had traveled to Virginia to stump for Mr. McAuliffe.
However, Mr. McAuliffe had complained that the president is “unpopular” in Virginia. He also grumbled that Mr. Biden‘s inability to get his massive social welfare and climate agenda passed by a Democratic-led House and Senate had been a drag on his campaign.
Mr. Biden will now likely face questions, if not outright accusations, from Democrats about whether his failure to pass his sweeping social spending bill upended the races.
Speaking in Scotland, Mr. Biden said his approval rating or difficulty passing his economic agenda wouldn’t move the needle in the Virginia governor’s race.
“I’ve not seen any evidence that whether or not I am doing well or poorly, whether or not I’ve got my agenda passed or not — is going to have any real impact on winning or losing,” he said.
“Even if we had passed my agenda, I wouldn’t claim we won because Biden‘s agenda had passed,” the president said.
Before departing for Europe last week, Mr. Biden did acknowledge that Republican victories could leave his struggling economic agenda in further peril.
“I don’t think it’s hyperbole to say that the House and Senate majorities and my presidency will be determined by what happens in the next week,” he said.
Ms. Harris, meanwhile, is taking heat for a prediction that Virginia’s governor race would signal the outcome of the 2022 midterm elections.
While campaigning with Mr. McAuliffe, she said, “What happens in Virginia will, in large part, determine what happens in 2022, 2024 and on.”
Republicans seized on Ms. Harris‘ prediction, saying it means Republicans now have the upper hand in the 2022 midterms and the 2024 presidential election.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel tweeted Ms. Harris‘ comments, adding “Virginians sent a resounding message rebuking Democrats. The red wave is here!”