Vice President Kamala D. Harris stumped for Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Thursday, urging supporters to make sure they turn out in the razor-tight race for the governorship.
Ms. Harris campaigned with Mr. McAuliffe in Dumfries, in Prince William County, one of Virginia’s most-diverse and fastest-growing counties.
The vice president noted the deadlocked polls in the race between Mr. McAuliffe and his GOP opponent, Glenn Youngkin.
“This race is tight,” Ms. Harris said. “We’ve got to make it clear, Virginia, that we’re paying attention. We’ve got to make it clear that we’re not taking anything for granted.”
Ms. Harris’s appearance comes a day after new polling showed Mr. McAuliffe tied with Mr. Youngkin among likely Virginia voters.
Democratic strategist Brad Bannon said Ms. Harris’s presence in the race is in part an effort to boost Mr. McAuliffe’s standing with Black voters, who are critical to the Democrat’s path to victory.
“It indicates that they realize it’s a very tight race,” Mr. Bannon said. “I think it also means a lot of whether McAuliffe wins or not, is dependent on galvanizing the African American vote.”
Johnny Byrd, 65, of Woodbridge, said he was excited about Ms. Harris being in Virginia, noting her legacy and experience.
“She’s an inspiration,” Mr. Byrd said. “She’s, of course, the first lady and the first woman of color for us [to be vice president.] And with the experience that she brings to the table, I think she’s very intelligent.”
Ms. Harris, who is the first Black, South Asian, and woman to hold the vice presidency, compared Mr. McAuliffe to the late Rep. John Lewis in her stump speech.
Lewis, a Georgia congressman and longtime civil-rights activist who was on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, was known for championing voting rights legislation and advocating for Blacks.
“We lost John Lewis, but John Lewis would talk about good trouble,” Ms. Harris said. “Terry McAuliffe knows about good trouble, and he knows that when it’s good trouble, it’s worth the good fight. That’s the kind of leader Terry is.”
Ms. Harris also zeroed in on abortion, noting some attendees that had signs reading “Don’t Texas My Virginia” referring to a six-week abortion ban signed into law by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
“This is one of the biggest issues in this race,” Ms. Harris said. “Whether Virginia elects a governor who respects women, who understands the constitutional right women have to make decisions about their own body, or take that away from women. These are the things that are at stake.”
Mr. McAuliffe, who made opening remarks for Ms. Harris, also invoked the Texas law in his comments, painting Mr. Youngkin as an anti-abortion extremist.
“Glenn Youngkin got caught on tape saying that if he is governor, he will go on the offense to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortions,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “He wants to bring the Texas-style laws here to the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Mr. Youngkin has said he is against abortion, except in cases of rape, incest and when the mother’s life is in danger.
Mr. McAuliffe concluded his remarks by warning voters of how close the race is, less than two weeks before election day.
“This is why I need you to vote. I say sleep when you’re dead. I don’t want you sleeping for the next 10 days,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “We are not going to let a Trump wannabe come in and take this state backwards.”
Others who campaigned with Mr. McAuliffe on Thursday included Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, Democratic lieutenant-governor candidate Hala Ayala, and Attorney General Mark Herring, who is running for a third term.
A group of climate activists briefly disrupted the event, but were shortly escorted out by security.
A handful of protesters stood outside the venue, holding signs that claimed former President Donald Trump was the true victor of the 2020 election.
Ms. Harris is one of several high-profile Black Democrats set to stump in Virginia in the coming week.
Mr. McAuliffe will campaign with former President Barack Obama on Saturday, and with former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison on Sunday.
A recent Monmouth University poll had Mr. McAuliffe tied with Mr. Youngkin at 46%.
The poll, conducted Oct. 16-19, surveyed 1,005 registered voters and had an error margin of 3.1 percentage points.
Early voting is underway in Virginia. Election Day is Nov. 2.
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