President Joe Biden on Wednesday vowed to push ahead with his domestic legislative agenda despite his party’s resounding defeat in Virginia gubernatorial election.
On Tuesday, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe lost his bid for another term in the governor’s mansion. The former Democratic National Committee chairman, who led the commonwealth from 2014-2018, lost out to GOP newcomer and former private equity executive Glenn Youngkin just one year after Mr Biden carried Virginia by 10 points.
Mr Biden, who spoke to reporters following remarks on the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a children’s Covid-19 vaccine, said he spoke to Mr McAuliffe on election night to congratulate him on garnering more Democratic votes than any statewide candidate in Virginia history (save for Mr Youngkin).
While the president claimed that no Virginia gubernatorial candidate has ever won election when his party holds the White House — a trend that has largely remained constant over the last few decades — it was Mr McAuliffe who defied those expectations to win his first term in 2013, just a year after then-president Barack Obama won his second term in the White House.
Asked whether he takes responsibility for Mr McAuliffe’s defeat, which many have cast as a rebuke to him and his administration, Mr Biden demurred, telling reporters: “What I do know is I do know that people want us to get things done”.
“They want us to get things done. And that’s why I’m continuing to push very hard for the Democratic Party to move along and pass my infrastructure bill and my Build Back Better bill,” he said.
Mr Biden suggested that Mr McAuliffe’s loss was due to voters feeling “upset and uncertain about a lot of things” — including the coronavirus pandemic, schools, jobs, and the cost of gasoline — and said such feelings could be resolved if his agenda passes Congress.
“If I’m able to … sign in law, my Build Back Better initiative, I’m in a position where you’re going to see a lot of those things ameliorated quickly and swiftly, so that has to be done,” he said, adding later that while he thought the bills should’ve reached his desk before Virginians went to the polls, he was not sure it would have made a difference because of how many conservative voters turned out for Mr Youngkin.