For the first time since his inauguration, President Joe Biden went on the campaign trail in person, supporting former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s bid to reclaim his former post.
Biden used the opportunity Friday in Arlington to take jabs at former President Donald Trump, whom he linked to McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin. Trump endorsed Youngkin, who won the Republican primary last month.
“I ran against Donald Trump and so is Terry,” Biden said. “I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry. I tell you what: The guy Terry’s running against is an acolyte of Donald Trump, for real.”
Last year, Biden received 54 percent of the vote in Virginia, earning the state’s 13 electoral votes.
Speaking to a crowd of about 3,000 McAuliffe supporters, Biden also criticised Trump for downplaying the Jan. 6 attack on the United States Capitol.
“Saying, ‘I was told there were a lot of peaceful, wonderful people,'” Biden challenged Trump’s assessment of the day.
Youngkin’s spokesman, Matt Wolking, told The Washington Post, “it’s totally dishonest for Terry McAuliffe to use President Trump’s endorsement to smear Glenn Youngkin, when McAuliffe is actually friends with Trump and took thousands of dollars from Trump to fund his campaign.
Biden also addressed McAuliffe supporters about the rise in COVID-19 cases across the country, particularly in Virginia.
“I know folks are watching the number of cases rising again and are wondering what it means for them. Well, here’s the truth. If you’re fully vaccinated, you’re safer with a higher degree of protection but if you’re not vaccinated, you are not protected.
“It’s not about red states or blue states or guys like that. It’s about life and it’s about death.”
Nearly 50,000 new cases were reported Friday, a 173% increase over the past two weeks, and daily deaths have increased 20% to 271, according to The New York Times. In Virginia, there were 543 new cases reported Friday, a 171% increase, and an average of 3.3 new deaths.
McAuliffe and Youngkin are vying to succeed Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. The Virginia Constitution forbids officeholders from serving multiple terms in the same office.