With three weeks left until Election Day in Virginia, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe reinforced his support for COVID-19 vaccine mandates in schools, and Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin challenged McAuliffe’s stance on education.
McAuliffe campaigned on Tuesday with former state education secretary Anne Holton, who now serves on the state board of education. The two spoke to educators in Alexandria about learning and safety challenges still posed by the pandemic.
“I’m going to do anything I can to keep our children safe, to keep our schools open,” McAuliffe said.
When an educator asked if that meant requiring vaccines for school children, McAuliffe did not hesitate.
“If the CDC says these vaccinations are safe for our children than I want everybody to be vaccinated,”he said.
McAuliffe’s support for vaccine requirements stands in stark contrast with Youngkin, who encourages vaccination but says families should get to choose.
Outside McAuliffe’s event, a Youngkin campaign truck played an ad on loop spotlighting a controversial comment by the former governor in our News4 debate.
“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe said.
The remark came in response to a discussion about banning books. Youngkin’s campaign seized on it and will host “Parents Matter” rallies across the commonwealth.
“He believes unions and government should be teaching our children without any parental involvement. That is Terry McAuliffe’s philosophical starting point,” Youngkin said after the debate.
“I think its totally a non-issue, with the Youngkin campaign trying to take something he said out of context,” Holton said. “Gov. McAuliffe’s actions speak louder than anything else about how he has already engaged parents.”
McAuliffe and Holton pointed to many listening tours they did with parents and students during McAuliffe’s first term as governor.
McAuliffe is calling on heavy hitters in the final weeks of the campaign.
First lady Jill Biden is set to visit on Friday. Stacey Abrams, the voting rights activist, grassroots organizer and former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, will campaign with McAuliffe in Norfolk and Northern Virginia on Sunday.
Former President Barack Obama will join McAuliffe in Richmond on Oct. 23 to mobilize Virginians during early voting, which began weeks ago and runs in person through Oct. 30.
Obama rallied Democrats in Virginia's capital city in 2017 before Ralph Northam beat Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie by nearly 9 percentage points.
McAuliffe’s effort to win a second, nonconsecutive term in office is one of only two regularly scheduled governor's races in the country this year and is being closely watched for indications of voter sentiment ahead of next year's midterms.