Though he's been out of office for over a decade, students and local community members stood in line for hours to hear former president Bill Clinton speak to a crowd in Owens Hall on Monday alongside democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Clinton, who is on a four-day, nine-stop tour through the commonwealth, spoke to a crowded room about the importance of getting out and voting for his longtime friend, McAuliffe.
“The decision you will make in Virginia in eight days is profoundly important to you and your future and the future of this state,” Clinton said. “It is also important to America. We have to send the signal that we have chosen creative cooperation over constant conflict.”
The campaign stop comes just four days after the third and final debate took place in Squires Haymarket Theatre between McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
According to a newly released Washington Post/Abt SRBI poll, McAuliffe’s lead has reached double digits with the latest numbers showing McAuliffe ahead 12 points over Cuccinelli.
Speaking to his volunteers on the campaign, McAuliffe applauded the effort of students and community members who had helped make his campaign successful, saying, “Even with a million (dollars) spent on TV ads, we know it was the grassroots energy and turn out that mattered the most.”
Organizers turned away a large number of people hoping to attend the event, citing fire marshal’s orders to prevent overcrowding and safety hazards.
As Clinton took the stage, McAuliffe commended his ability as a president to “show America what can happen when we focus on the economy and work with both parties.”
Clinton publicly endorsed McAuliffe at the event, citing several reasons why he felt compelled to give him his support. The two politicians have been friends since before Clinton’s presidency, and Clinton mentioned their family’s frequent vacations together.
“I love the guy. I’d be here if he was 50 points behind in the polls,” Clinton said.
Addressing the students, Clinton praised the innovation and advances that are being made among college students in higher education, stating “I’ve got more yesterdays than tomorrows but … I wish I was your age. I’d like to see what’s going to happen.”
Clinton, who is known for his bipartisanship, touted the need for current politicians to reach across party lines and find solutions for the problems facing the country.
“We have to send a signal that we are a part of the same community, and not have one set of rules for one crowd and another set for another crowd,” Clinton said.
After the campaign stop in Blacksburg, McAuliffe and Clinton headed to Northern Virginia to campaign in Herndon, but will be returning to Roanoke on Wednesday to finish out their tour together.