Biden fends off anti-pipeline protesters in Virginia

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Biden fends off anti-pipeline protesters in Virginia

President Biden’s Friday night stump speech in Virginia was interrupted by anti-pipeline protesters — leading the commander-in-chief to tell his audience to ignore the hecklers.

Biden was about two minutes into his remarks at an Arlington rally for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe when a group of people began yelling “Stop Line 3!” referring to a controversial oil pipeline project in northern Minnesota.

The rest of the crowd attempted to drown out the protesters by booing and chanting “Let’s go, Joe!” as the president tried to restore order.

“That’s OK, that’s all right,” Biden said. “No, no, no, no. Let ’em talk. That’s OK. Look, this is not a Trump rally. Let ’em holler. No one’s paying attention.”

The president spoke before an enthusiastic and largely unmasked crowd of around 3,000 people in support of McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic party heavyweight who is seeking another term as Virginia’s governor. McAuliffe previously held that office from 2014 to 2018. Under Virginia law, governors cannot run for a second consecutive term.

President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Virginia, as he fended off hecklers shouting anti-pipeline remarks.
President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event in Virginia, as he fended off hecklers shouting anti-pipeline remarks.
AP

McAuliffe is favored to defeat his Republican opponent, private equity executive Glenn Youngkin. While the race is seen as competitive, the rapid growth of northern Virginia’s Washington, DC suburbs has tipped the commonwealth into the reliably Democratic column. No Republican presidential candidate has won Virginia since George W. Bush in 2004 and the last GOPer elected governor was Bob McDonnell in 2009.

“You’re not gonna find anyone, I mean anyone, who knows how to get more done for Virginia than Terry,” Biden said. “Off-year election, the country’s looking. This is a big deal.”

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event for Virginia democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe on July 22, 2021.
President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event for Virginia democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe on July 22, 2021.
Getty Images

Still, as one of only two regularly scheduled governor’s races this year (New Jersey being the other), the Virginia contest is drawing outsize national attention as a potential measuring stick of voter sentiment ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

When not touting his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the economy, Biden attempted to cast Youngkin as an “acolyte of Donald Trump.”

“I ran against Donald Trump in Virginia and so is Terry,” the president said at one point. “And I whipped Donald Trump in Virginia and so will Terry.”

Biden also accused Republicans of offering “nothing more than fear, lies and broken promises.”

“The United States is based on — the only country in the world based on the proposition, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident,’ that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” he said. “We’ve never met the test, but we’ve never walked away from it like the Republicans have.”

With Post wires

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