Obama once again hit the campaign trail for a critical race for Governor in Virginia. He rallied voters in the final weeks of the contested campaign in support of Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D). This November 7th election is seen as a must-win for Democrats. Earlier in the same day, Obama was on the trail for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Murphy in New Jersey.
When Obama took to the podium, the crowd thundered with applause and shouted his presidential campaign chant: “Yes we can!” More than 6,200 people attended the rally.
The former president spent most of his speech condemning the current state of politics. He said the atmosphere is “so divided and so angry and so nasty.” He urged Democrats not to become “complacent,” and reminded the crowd that Democratic turnout typically drops off in years where there is not a presidential race.
“This choice matters, the question is will you show up to vote?” Obama asked the crowd. “In off-year elections, Democrats sometimes –” Obama paused for laughter from the audience, “Y’all get a little sleepy. You get a little complacent. This is not my opinion. This is the data.” Obama challenged, “It’s going to come down to how bad you want it.”
The race for Governor in Virginia is between GOP candidate Ed Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman, and Northam. Gillespie came very close to winning a 2014 senate race. Polls show that Northam is in the lead, but most believe the race will go down to the wire.
The Virginia race has been used in the past as a way to gauge where the public is a year out from the midterm elections. The Democrats are focused on winning back the House in 2018. They hope a newfound party enthusiasm, as well as Trump’s critically low approval rating, will propel them to victory in Virginia.
Obama said this about Northam, “Ralph’s whole life has been about honest, responsible service to others,” He continued describing the whole gubernatorial ticket, ”You have people who are in this race for the right reasons,” he continued. “At a time when so many of us can be so cynical about government and public service, to have someone step up who you can trust … that’s worth something.”
Northam went after his opponent by tying him to Trump and White House policies. He rattled off withdrawing from the Paris climate change agreement, reversing DACA and instituting a travel ban Northam called “totally un-American.”
“My opponent Ed Gillespie is cut from the same mold that Donald Trump is,” Northam said. “He’s nothing more than a Washington lobbyist who has now become Donald Trump’s chief lobbyist.”
Obama and Northam were aiming to rally the state’s diversity. They gave effort to mobilizing black voters who came out in droves for Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.
“We know it’s going to be a fight, it’s not a cake walk,” Northam said, finishing his speech. “It’s going to take all of us together. Are you ready to fight with me?”
Credit: The Hill