McAuliffe Says ‘Unpopular’ Biden Is a Drag on Virginia Race
(Bloomberg) -- Virginia gubernatorial Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe cast President Joe Biden and his party’s lawmakers in Congress as a liability in the final weeks of the campaign, with polls showing a tightening race.
“We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington,” McAuliffe, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, said during a virtual rally with supporters on Tuesday. “As you know, the president is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia, so we’ve got to plow through.”
The remarks were quickly amplified by the Republican National Committee on Twitter as the McAuliffe campaign sought to explain them.
“Terry’s point was clearly that Democrats can’t take anything for granted and must turn out to vote this year: Glenn Youngkin is running on a divisive, Trumpian agenda that puts election conspiracy theories and banning abortion first,” McAuliffe’s campaign said in an emailed statement.
Biden is buffeted by intra-party fighting over his signature infrastructure package, a resurgent coronavirus pandemic and lingering bipartisan criticism for both his administration’s handling of migrants at the Southern border and the military’s August withdrawal from Afghanistan.
A former chair of the Democratic National Committee, McAuliffe’s distancing from the president may be a precursor as to how the party’s congressional candidates will try to save themselves in next year’s mid-term elections.
“Terry is losing this race on his own because Virginians are rejecting his left liberal agenda of defunding the police, firing workers who won’t follow his vaccine edicts, keep parents from having a say in their child’s education, and raise taxes on each Virginia family by $5,400 dollars,” Macaulay Porter, a Youngkin spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.
At a debate in late September, McAuliffe also distanced himself from congressional Democrats, arguing that the $3.5 trillion price tag for a bill enshrining Biden’s domestic policy agenda was “too high” and arguing that the debate over the legislation had dragged on too long, although he still called for its passage.
Over the summer, McAuliffe held a joint campaign appearance with the president in Arlington, a suburban battleground in northern Virginia. Biden won the state over Donald Trump by more than 10 points in last November’s presidential election.
But polls show McAuliffe in a dead heat with Youngkin, a former co-CEO of the Carlyle Group.
An Emerson College poll of 620 likely voters conducted Oct. 1-3 showed the two in a statistical tie, with 49% of respondents favoring McAuliffe and 48% backing Youngkin. The poll had a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.
That same poll showed Biden’s approval underwater, with 48% disapproving and 45% approving, similar to other state and national surveys that have shown the president’s numbers declining.
With the exception of McAuliffe’s previous win in 2013, the party that doesn’t control the White House has won the state’s governorship since the 1970s.
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