Barack Obama claimed at a campaign rally on Thursday for Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam that “democracy is at stake” in the Virginia governor’s race.
Obama took to his first day back on the campaign trail to lament the way politics has turned “nasty,” and yet Obama melodramatically argued that Virginians need to vote for Democrat Ralph Northam because “democracy is at stake.”
Obama told the Virginia audience, “America is a story of progress. Ralph Northam wants progress. He wants to take us forward, not backward. He wants to reach out for hope, not fear. We need you to take this seriously. Because our democracy is at stake. And it’s at stake right here in Virginia.”
The Washington Post testified that 7,500 people gathered at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Thursday to hear the former president speak, a far cry from Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign rallies that gathered crowds of 80,000 and 100,000 Americans.
The former president then argued that the Republican candidate for governor, Ed Gillespie, continues to run a campaign “by dividing people.”
“I haven’t been commenting a lot on politics lately. But here’s one thing I know,” Obama said. “If you have to win a campaign by dividing people, you’re not going to be able to govern them. You won’t be able to unite them later if that’s how you start.”
At the third and final gubernatorial debate, Democrat Ralph Northam argued that Gillespie’s proposed legislation to ban sanctuary cities is nothing more than a political ploy. Northam argued that it promotes bigotry and division.
“This piece of legislation that was nothing more than a political ploy are [sic] doing nothing more than promoting fear mongering, hatred, and bigotry,” Northam said.
Gillespie fired back at Northam’s claim during the debate that he does not support sanctuary cities. Gillespie charged, “But you refuse to say in that instance that if one were established you would ban them, even in retrospect in response, and that’s very telling to me.”
Obama then went on to argue that some folks, allegedly Gillespie and President Donald Trump, continue to use “nasty” political rhetoric to divide Americans.
“We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage,” Obama said. “So the question for you tonight for the next 19 days: Do you want a politics of division and distraction, or do you believe in a better kind of politics?”
Democrat gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam then took to the stage to attack Trump and Gillespie, citing Trump and Gillespie’s similarity.
“Unfortunately, my opponent Ed Gillespie is cut from the same cloth that Donald Trump is. He is nothing more than a Washington lobbyist who has now become Donald Trump’s chief lobbyist. We cannot let that happen in the Commonwealth of Virginia. All of us need to stand up on Election Day. We cannot accept this is the new normal,” Northam charged,
Obama even cheered up-and-coming Lt. gubernatorial candidate Justin Fairfax. Northam excluded Fairfax from a campaign flier, a move that ignited a controversy between the two Democratic candidates.
The former president said, ““He didn’t grow up with much, but with scholarships, a hard-working mom, he went to college and law school and chose public service to make sure other striving young kids could have the same opportunities,” Obama said.
Obama even claimed, “Instead of politics reflecting our values, we got politics infecting our communities.”
Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie took the lead over Democrat candidate Ralph Northam, according to a poll from Monmouth University released on Tuesday.