President Biden on Tuesday stumped for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race and told voters the election was all about former President Donald Trump.
He chided Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin for not campaigning with Mr. Trump, accused him of being a “Trump acolyte” and of hiding from Mr. Trump.
“[Youngkin] won’t allow Donald Trump to campaign for him in the state,” Mr. Biden told a crowd of roughly 2,500 in Arlington. “What’s he trying to hide? Is there a problem with Trump being here? Is he embarrassed?”
Labored to energize Democratic voters in the razor-close governor’s race, now just a week away, Mr. Biden repeatedly invoked Mr. Trump and attempted to paint Mr. Youngkin as a Trump clone.
“To win the Republican nomination, he embraced Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said. “Now, he doesn’t want to talk about Trump anymore. Well, I do.”
In this way, Mr. Biden lent his presidential stature to Mr. McAuliffe’s efforts to nationalize the governor’s race and tap into anti-Trump sentiment in Virginia. The state favored Mr. Biden over Mr. Trump by 10 points in the 2020 presidential election, though Mr. Biden’s approval rating has been slipping fast in Virginia amid crisis engulfing the Biden administration from the southern border to gridlock in Congress.
Mr. Youngkin, meanwhile, has been treading a fine line between embracing Mr. Trump and forging his own path as a traditional conservative GOP candidate.
Tuesday’s rally marks Mr. Biden’s second stump speech for Mr. McAuliffe, who has welcomed several heavy-hitting Democrats to Virginia in recent weeks.
“Look who came here for Terry. My wife Jill, Barack Obama, Kamala Harris,” Mr. Biden said, drawing a comparison to Mr. Youngkin’s mostly solo campaign.
In recent weeks, Mr. Youngkin has focused on pocketbook issues, straying from culture war topics sometimes favored by the pro-Trump base.
Republicans shrugged off Mr. Biden’s rally, expressing confidence in Mr. Youngkin’s momentum.
“With an unprecedented amount of Republican enthusiasm, Virginians are ready to reject Terry McAuliffe and Joe Biden this November and turn out for Glenn Youngkin and Republicans up and down the ballot,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, touching on Mr. Biden’s waning popularity.
The McAuliffe campaign has spent the majority of the campaign trying to tie Mr. Youngkin to Mr. Trump.
Mr. McAuliffe put out numerous ads attacking Mr. Youngkin’s acceptance of the former president’s endorsement.
At the Arlington rally, Mr. McAuliffe tethered Mr. Youngkin to the Jan. 6 riot and Mr. Trump’s unproven claims of voter fraud that he said killed his chances in the 2020 election.
Mr. McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, also alluded to the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, calling it the “darkest” day of his governorship.
“We all remember that Donald Trump said they were very fine people,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “And after all of that, Glenn Youngkin said that Donald Trump represents so much of why he is running for governor.”
Recent polls indicate that the race between Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Youngkin is in a deadlock.
The latest poll from the GOP polling firm Cygnal had Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Youngkin tied at 48.3%.
The poll surveyed 816 likely voters in Virginia between Oct. 19-21 and carried a margin of error of +/-3.43%.
Mr. Biden follows appearances from former President Barack Obama, under whom he served as vice president, as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
For Democratic voter Grace Ashi, 30, of Arlington, Mr. Biden’s support for Mr. McAuliffe has solidified her support for the candidate.
“I’ve been a big fan of Joe Biden forever,” Ms. Ashi, a local realtor said. “Even if I don’t know too much about the candidate, if Joe Biden is supporting him, then I will too.”
Several Democratic members of the Virginia congressional delegation, Gov. Ralph Northam, as well as Lt. Gov. nominee Hala Ayala and Attorney General Mark Herring, who is running for a third term, also attended the rally.
A small group of protesters stood outside the rally holding signs that claimed Mr. Trump won the 2020 election.
A group of hecklers also tried to disrupt the event but were quickly escorted out by security.
Early voting is underway in Virginia. Election Day is Nov. 2.