McAuliffe, Youngkin hold final rallies ahead of Virginia election

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R)
Greg Nash

LEESBURG, Va. — Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) held their final campaign rallies before Election Day on Monday night, delivering contrasting messages in what is expected to be a nail-biter of a contest. 

McAuliffe once again took the opportunity at his last campaign event before Election Day to tie Youngkin to former President Trump. 

“Guess how Glenn Youngkin is finishing his campaign? He is doing an event with Donald Trump here in Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “I’m here with you, and they’ve got Trump over there.” 

“It’s sensitive for us with Trump here in Virginia because of Charlottesville,” he added, referring to the deadly white supremacist riot that took place four years ago when McAuliffe was governor. 

“Donald Trump wants to win here tomorrow night so he can next day announce for president of the United States of America. Well, we’re going to put an end to Donald Trump’s future plans right here in Virginia,” McAuliffe said. “I’ve beaten Trump twice in Virginia, tomorrow we go 3 and 0.” 

Trump held a tele-rally in support of Youngkin on Monday evening that was closed to the press where he spoke for about six minutes. Youngkin said over the weekend that he was not going to engage with the rally. 

However, Democrats say they see an opportunity in tying Youngkin to Trump given the former president’s endorsement of Youngkin and Trump’s deep unpopularity in parts of the state. Trump lost Virginia in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

McAuliffe also touted his own record as governor on issues like voting rights, abortion rights and the economy. 

“Do you think Glenn Youngkin would do any of this? Of course he will not,” McAuliffe said. 

Youngkin did not mention Trump during his rally, but sought to underscore that his gubernatorial campaign was more than a political endeavor. 

“We have to have a moment where the power shifts away from the marble halls of Richmond to the kitchen tables,” Youngkin told a crowd. 

Youngkin strongly invoked the issues of parents’ involvement in school boards and academic curriculum, a theme that he has touted throughout his campaign. 

His campaign’s choice to hold the rally in Loudoun County was strategic given Loudoun’s status as the epicenter of school board fights in the U.S. 

“What can happen tomorrow can be a statement, a statement that can be heard across this country because America needs us to vote tomorrow as well. America’s watching,” Youngkin said. ”Why because all across this country families are having the same discussions that you all have. I get notes all day long, ‘Glenn stand up for our kids too. Stand up for the rights of our children because we can’t vote this year.”

Youngkin reiterated that, if elected, schools in Virginia would not have political agendas and he would ban “critical race theory.”

“What we won’t do is teach our children to view everything through a lens of race where we divide them into buckets and one group is an oppressor and the other is a victim and we pit them against each other and we steal their dreams,” Youngkin said. 

The Republican also launched a number of attacks against McAuliffe, saying the Democrat would raise taxes and put government between schools and families. 

The candidates’ choice of surrogates at Monday’s rally further illustrated their campaigns’ deep difference. 

McAuliffe brought in the founder of the gun control group Mom’s Demand Action, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and civil rights and labor leader Dolores Huerta. 

Youngkin, on the other hand, had some lesser nationally known surrogates at his rally’s preshow including Ian Prior, a former Trump administration official and GOP operative who has led the fight against the Loudoun County school board. Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman also addressed Youngkin supporters at the rally. 

Democrats and Republicans are viewing the election as a bellwether ahead of next year’s midterm elections. Polls show a tight race with high Republican enthusiasm. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball shifted the race from “lean Democratic” to “lean Republican” on Tuesday. 

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