Biden Campaigns for McAuliffe in Closely Watched Virginia Gubernatorial Race

The contest is seen as an early test of the nation's political climate a year after the fray of 2020 and ahead of the congressional midterm elections.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) at the Lubber Run Community Center on July 22, 2021 in Arlington, Virginia.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

President Joe Biden traveled a few miles across the Potomac River on Friday evening to stump for former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who is in a crucial race to retake his old job.

It was Biden’s first in-person campaign event appearance since becoming president — one in which an estimated 3,000 supporters gathered in a park in Arlington, some without masks, as the president reminded the crowd about the state of the pandemic.

"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," he said, touting Virginia's progress in getting shots in arms.

"It's not about red states or blue states or guys like that. It's about life and it's about death."

Virginia chooses its governors in off-year elections, which usually attract only the most enthusiastic voters. But McAuliffe's race is perceived to be competitive, and Biden, highlighting his administration's achievements, made clear that the nation is watching.

“I mean this, not just for Virginia, but for the country. The country is looking. These off-year elections, the country is looking," he said. "This is a big deal.”

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