(NEXSTAR) – President Biden appeared at a rally for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Friday, taking shots at McAuliffe’s opponent by describing him as an “acolyte of Donald Trump.”
President Biden spoke to a crowd of nearly 3,000 people at the Arlington event — many of whom were unmasked — at times likening his own victory over Trump to his projection that McAuliffe will win over Glenn Youngkin, a businessman-turned-politician running as the Republican nominee.
“Terry and I share a lot in common. I ran against Donald Trump and so is Terry,” said Biden. “And I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry.”
McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor of Virginia between 2014 and 2018, is seen as a moderate Democrat, with political views similar to Biden’s. Youngkin, too, has positioned himself as a more moderate Republican, but did say he was “honored” by Trump’s endorsement.
As of Friday evening’s rally in Arlington, polls show McAuliffe with a lead over Youngkin, though Virginia’s gubernatorial race is said to be competitive, the Associated Press reported.
Being his first campaign stop for a specific candidate since becoming president, Biden’s appearance in Virginia and any future influence on the outcome of the election are viewed as a measure of his political weight.
“You’re not gonna find anyone, I mean anyone, who knows how to get more done for Virginia than Terry,” Biden said. “Off-year election, the country’s looking. This is a big deal.”
Biden also took one other swipe at Trump when protestors against an oil pipeline interrupted his speech.
“That’s OK. Look, this is not a Trump rally. Let him holler. No one’s paying attention,” he said, eliciting cheers from the audience.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.