Just six days before Virginia voters will elect their next governor, former President Bill Clinton and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe co-hosted a major campaign rally Wednesday morning at the Paramount theater downtown. Numerous security guards lined the walls both in the theater and outside, and sniffing dogs walked throughout the vicinity, as the theater packed full of students and Charlottesville community members alike.
Former University professor Michael Mann spoke about his long-term legal battle with McAuliffe’s Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, over research Mann conducted on climate change. The battle cost the University more than half a million dollars in legal fees.
“We need leaders who will support our researchers and thinkers, not make it more difficult for us to carry out our work because they don’t agree,” Mann said. “I have seen the damage [Cuccinelli’s] ideological stance can do.”
McAuliffe emphasized some of his headlining policies, including his promise to expand Medicaid and make improvements in Virginia’s education programs if elected.
The true star-power behind the event, however, was evident once Clinton took the stage, eliciting generous applause and a standing ovation from the audience. Clinton took a more casual tone, in contrast to the formal speeches of other local Democratic leaders who spoke.
The long-term personal friendship between Clinton and McAuliffe is well-documented and goes back to before Clinton’s presidency. Clinton drew upon this personal relationship as a way to assure voters of McAuliffe’s trustworthiness and accountability.
Clinton praised McAuliffe’s bipartisan manner. “[Terry says] these are complicated problems, we have to get everyone together, we need people who can get together and go forward together,” he said, lauding McAuliffe’s understanding of “the art of the deal.”
The speeches were kept short — both McAullife’s and Clinton’s clocked in at less than half an hour, persistent applause included. The election will be held next Tuesday, Nov. 5.