By Dan Merica, CNN
Stacey Abrams had a message for Democrats in Virginia on Sunday: If Republicans win on November 2, the commonwealth will begin looking a lot more like Georgia or Texas, two states that have seen years of Republican control.
Abrams, during an event in Charlottesville on behalf of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe that featured a performance by Dave Matthews, put the race between McAuliffe and Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin in stark terms, further nationalizing a race that has already involved top name Democratic surrogates.
“If you want to figure out what could happen to you in nine days if you don’t get out and vote, pick up a newspaper that talks about Georgia. If you want to know what happens in nine days, if we don’t get out and vote, looking at what’s happening in Texas,” Abrams said. “If you want to know what happens to Virginia, if we don’t vote, if you don’t turn out on November the 2nd, then remember what you felt like in November of 2016.”
The line landed with the audience: Many attendees groaned at the idea.
Abrams, a voting rights activist and former gubernatorial candidate, continued to nationalize the race, telling assembled voters that “what you do will signal what will happen in ’22 and ’24” and will “set the course of this nation for the next decade.”
McAuliffe, too, warned that a Republican leading Virginia could lead to strict abortion laws like the one recently enacted in Texas that bans most abortions as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
“He’s going to bring that here,” the former governor said of the Texas abortion law, even though Youngkin has said he would not sign the Texas legislation. “Women’s lives are going to be put at risk. … This is not a talking point anymore, folks. This is real. This has happened.”
Youngkin has been pressed on abortion throughout the campaign and, when asked whether he would support a similar law that barred abortions just after a fetal heartbeat is detected — which is often before a woman knows that she is pregnant — and included the exceptions he supports, Youngkin said, “I do believe that a pain threshold bill would be appropriate.”
The event in Charlottesville culminated a busy weekend for McAuliffe, who also headlined an event with former President Barack Obama on Saturday in Richmond.
Polls show the race is tight, with a recent Monmouth University survey showing Youngkin and McAuliffe both with 46% support among registered voters.
One of the overarching themes of the race has been McAuliffe’s attempts to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, a figure who remains unpopular in Virginia and lost the commonwealth by 10 percentage points in 2020.
“We’ve got nine days to go. There could not be a more stark difference. I am running against someone who had been endorsed by Donald Trump, not once, not twice, not three times, not four times, not five times, six times endorsed by Donald Trump,” McAuliffe bellowed during his remarks on Sunday.
He later said, “I’m 2-0 beating Donald Trump. And I am going to go 3-0 in the next nine days.”
Youngkin, however, has somewhat kept Trump at arm’s length, accepting his endorsement and lauding the former president at times, while also being careful about how he associates himself with the Republican leader. While Trump did phone into an event this month for Youngkin outside of Richmond, he has not held a rally in the state, as Youngkin has largely run a campaign without top surrogates.
The Republican candidate has, however, nationalized the race in his own way.
“Friends, America needs us right now,” Youngkin told an audience in Henrico, Virginia on Saturday evening. “I get more texts and phone calls and emails from parents all over this great nation, saying, ‘Glenn, stand up for our children too, stand up for our children too.'”
He later added: “Our nation’s future rests in Virginia’s present. All eyes are on Virginia.”
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