We got lost trying to find Joe Biden and Terry McAulliff in a shopping mall in Sterling, Virginia, Sunday, Nov. 2.
Virginia Democrats scheduled the former vice President and leading presidential candidate Biden and former Virginia governor and Clinton presidential campaign advisor McAuliffe to talk up volunteers about to hit the neighborhoods with a last minute get-out-the-vote campaign before Tuesday’s possible transformational election.
The rally was not immediately visible at the back end of the mall. A cluster of signs of local candidates — Murphy, Bell, Saines, Amudhanar, Suhas and Biberaj among others — showed the way to a sign-in table, a stage and a platform for press photographers. About 200 people were gathered in the cold shade listening to the opening speakers.
“When we flip control of the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate from Republicans to Democrats, magic is going to happen,” said Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall. “We will protect immigrant children,” said Diego Garcia, a Virginia resident who is President of “Students for Biden” at Harvard University. “They don’t belong in cages – never in cages.”
Meanwhile, we were hungry, and the two star attractions were late. We took 15 minutes to grab a quick bite nearby. When we returned to the rally, Biden and McAuliffe were already working deep inside the rope line.
For almost an hour the broadly smiling, laughing, chatty, utterly friendly vice president and leading candidates walked slowly in front of and among the gathered crowd. The two often grabbed the iPhone of, it seemed, just about anyone who waved one at them, to take cheek-to-cheek selfies. They told jokes, answered questions. During a long handshake, the smiling, earnest Biden looked me in the eyes, leaned in to block the noisy crowd and responded to a policy question whispered in his ear.
The two Democratic mega-leaders didn’t seem rushed. Their staffs assured everyone who wanted to would get to talk to them and take a selfie (since obviously just being there, waving, cheering and telling one’s friends about it is no longer enough). They spent a good hour with the crowd.
Some people may say they were key to Tuesday’s Democratic success — at least in Virginia.
The stakes of this election were high. Republicans held a mere two-seat majority in the State Senate and a one seat-majority in the House of Delegates (and that was won by a coin toss with the same toss-up winner and loser opposing each other again this election). With a Democratic governor who had survived a potential Democratic recall when he admitted wearing black face as a medical student, the party now had the chance to flip the entire state government Democratic — the first time in decades
The Democrats did it on Nov. 5. Even the former coin toss loser and a woman who had lost her job in 2017 by bird-flipping President Trump as he passed by in a car — both Democrats — won their elections.
Perhaps the victory was because of the help of old-fashioned, shoe-leather mall-gathering glad-handing by political pros Biden and McAuliffe, who shook thousands of hands and posed for thousands of individual selfies in Virginia and who seemed honestly to enjoy, even relish, the process.