Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe during a video conference call with supporters cautioned that his campaign is "facing a lot of headwinds from Washington," admitting that President Joe Biden is "unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia."
The video, distributed on Twitter by the Republican National Committee's research group, showed McAuliffe speaking in a Zoom meeting to about a dozen people about the urgency to get Democrats out to vote.
The former Virginia governor who served from 2014 to 2018 is up against Republican Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity chief with a large personal fortune and no political track record. The off-year election is in November.
A Roanoke College poll showed McAuliffe up seven points among likely voters, but 43% of Republicans said they were extremely enthusiastic about voting compared with 35% of Democrats. Six in 10 voters said the country is on the wrong track, and 73% rate Biden’s handling of Afghanistan as fair or poor.
McAuliffe is positioning himself as more conservative than Biden and is trying to link his opponent to former President Donald Trump.
An Oct. 2 column by James Hohmann in the Washington Post headlined that the contest "is now a referendum on Biden as much as Trump."
Hohmann wrote that "Youngkin ripped Biden during the final debate in Alexandria on Tuesday for 'an abject failure of leadership' in Afghanistan and the 'absolute chaos' at the southern border." McAuliffe didn’t come to the president’s defense on either issue. Instead, he said a $3.5 trillion price tag for the Democratic reconciliation package is "too high."
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Virginia race should not be covered as a referendum on Biden’s agenda.
"Races are always a little bit more complicated than that," she said at a press conference.
McAuliffe has long been associated with the Clintons. He was co-chairman of Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, chairman of the DNC from 2001 to 2005, and chairman of Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign.
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