President Barack Obama was at Washington-Lee High School this afternoon (Sunday) campaigning for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe two days before election day.
Obama, Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and actress Kerry Washington, star of the TV show “Scandal,” were among the speakers. Thousands of spectators crowded the Washington-Lee gymnasium to watch the event, and the line to get in curved around N. Stafford Street onto Washington Blvd and N. Quincy Street.
Obama spoke passionately for about 20 minutes, lambasting Congressional Republicans for the government shutdown and praising McAuliffe’s stances on transportation and education, but not before he came out to a roar of cheers and started his speech by exclaiming, “Hello, Washington-Lee!”
“An extreme faction of the Republican Party have shown again and again and again that they’re going to hijack the party, and the country, and the economy, and bring Congress to an absolute halt unless they get 100 percent of what they want,” Obama said. “This isn’t just speculation, this happened just last month for the first government shutdown in 17 years.”
There was no mention of the rocky rollout of the Affordable Care Act, which was the subject of most of the signs Republican demonstrators were sporting outside the high school while attendees waited in line.
Obama spoke minimally of McAulffe’s opponent, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, not mentioning him by name, simply referring to him as “the other guy,” but McAuliffe highlighted a recent interview Cuccinelli gave on Fox News, when he said he “perfectly happy” that voters in Virginia have “short memories” when it comes to the government shutdown.
“He’s saying that he wants Virginians to forget the shutdown because he wants us to forget all the things he did during the government shutdown,” McAuliffe said, “because as you know it was Ken Cuccinelli that brought Ted Cruz to Richmond. We’re not going to forget that.”
McAuliffe highlighted his policy toward reinvesting in community colleges, and attacked Cuccinelli’s position on the Silver Line.
Warner introduced McAuliffe — whom he has known for more than three decades since the two worked in the Jimmy Carter administration — and highlighted the importance of the election.
“Elections have consequences. Look where I work,” he said, before criticizing the shutdown. “Terry will fight to make sure every child in Virginia has a fair shake and a fair shot.”
Washington, a surprise appearance on the program for many in attendance, drew huge applause when she went up to speak less than 24 hours after hosting Saturday Night Live and appearing as Michelle Obama in a sketch.
“We are so blessed to live in a country where we have a voice in our government,” she said. “On Tuesday, get out there and vote. We did it last year … let’s just do it again on Tuesday.”
Moran was one of the first to speak in the program, right after Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents most of Fairfax County. He, like nearly every other speaker, implored those in the audience to volunteer for the campaign in the final days before the election. He also took the chance to skewer the Republicans for their policies.
“If you want to move forward, you shift into D for Democrat,” he said. “If you want to back up, go in reverse, you put in R for Republican. So what we’re going to do on Tuesday is to move forward, with Terry McAuliffe at the wheel and with Ralph Northam and Mark Herring sitting alongside him”