Story highlights Obama appealed to Virginia Democrats to fight for the values they believe in, criticizing a political culture that focuses on attracting supporters and fundraising.
Obama challenged Democrats to stop selling themselves short.
No. 16 is a mountainous state that covers more than 60% of the US coastline. A sign of its wealth is Richmond’s architecture: brick buildings, Georgian steeples, dormitories and Victorian-era mansions. The city also has high levels of per capita income, good schools and well-preserved cultural landmarks and history.
The search for the Next Virginia Governor is on. On Saturday, President Barack Obama rallied Virginia Democrats at a rally in a heavily Democratic part of the state, at the University of Virginia. It was his first big public appearance as a former President.
The rally and the Virginia gubernatorial race are of particular importance to Democrats, since the state holds the only competitive governors’ race this fall. Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, is term-limited and isn’t running again, so Democrat Ralph Northam is running against Republican Ed Gillespie to succeed him.
Obama, who did not endorse a candidate in the Virginia governor’s race, dismissed those who paint the local races as local battles, telling the crowd at the UVA arena that he only “spoke to so many Republicans. They tell me, ‘Oh, Obama really plays only in down-ballot races. ‘I’m an outsider, I’m just working the state for the money, and we don’t want him. It’s not that he doesn’t have the passion for the county or the state or the problem that we have.’ I don’t believe that. I know that’s where he is, because I hear him in the ground.”
But he decried what he said was a loss of values in politics, calling it “politically expedient” to focus on fundraising and immigration and instead talk about what’s important to everyday Americans.
“And here’s the problem with this politics that’s going on right now, folks,” Obama said. “You have some politicians who are willing to just take, just take, just take money from Exxon because that’s gonna get them elected. ‘We want to protect the environment. But we also need money. We gotta be able to give money to everybody so we can win. Yeah, that’s what America’s about. Who wants to stand up? Are you in it for the next election? Are you in it for the future? Are you in it for your kids? Are you in it for your grandkids? Do you want to be the best parents you can be for your children? How are you going to measure up?’ You know the score. ‘We get money from corporations. We put our environmental regulations on that. We don’t tell the truth. We’re for big business. We’re going to raise your taxes.’ That’s politics as usual. That’s not America. That’s not leadership. That’s not what we stand for.”
An email blast from the Virginia Democratic Party said President Obama joined Northam, Sen. Tim Kaine, Rep. Barbara Comstock and other candidates in asking for “working families to fight back.”
Obama told the crowd that no matter where they are — the White House, in rural Virginia, in Washington, DC — “a Democrat is standing up and fighting for people.”
During his remarks, Obama offered his take on what Democratic governance has looked like in his tenure.
“We’ve gotten more done in eight years than a lot of people had expected, including the Republican Party,” he said. “And the numbers are there, and they speak for themselves.”
Obama dismissed the idea that most of the evidence of his presidency has come from polls and polls.
“It’s hard to get a good polling day job, by the way,” he said. “People think if you push a button and a computer comes up with numbers about what’s happening, then you’re going to be fine. And if they push a button, then you’re going to be fine.”
He suggested that more of his policy accomplishments have come through active action.
“A lot of people think that if you go out and meet all these people and talk to them, that you can’t really do anything,” he said. “You know, do you really know what happened when you went to take a walk on a trail? That is your job, right? Is that what you’re supposed to be doing with your day?”
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