'This is not a Trump Rally': Joe Biden Heckled at Virginia Gathering – Video
07:53 GMT 24.07.2021 (Updated: 13:21 GMT 06.08.2022)
Friday's rally in Virginia was seen as a test for Joe Biden as he prepares to campaign with Democrats across the US ahead of next year's midterm elections, which will be his first as president.
On Friday night, President Joe Biden was booed by hecklers as he spoke at a campaign event in Virginia for Terry McAuliffe's bid to return for a second term as the state's governor.
In a video of the incident that was shared on social networks, Biden is seen being almost immediately interrupted by those in the crowd who reacted angrily to POTUS praising Alabama's Republican governor Kat Ivey for urging residents of her state to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
"What we have now is a pandemic of the unvaccinated. A lot of our conservative friends have had a second thought. They've seen the Lord. Thank God the governor of Alabama - had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country - has now, and I'm genuinely complimenting her...", Biden said before being heckled.
Some in the crowd were heard yelling "We love you Joe!", while others screamed "Stop Line 3!", in an apparent reference to a on oil pipeline project running from the Canadian province of Alberta to Minnesota.
The US president then responded by saying, "look, this is not a Trump rally. Let 'em holler. No one's paying attention".
Biden was in Virginia to raise money for McAuliffe, who previously served as the state's governor from 2014 to 2018. The 64-year-old is now running against Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin, backed by Donald Trump, for the position. Youngkin's campaign, in turn, is using McAuliffe's strong ties to prominent Democrats in order to depict him as a Washington insider.
"Terry McAuliffe must be worried about his terrible poll numbers if he's already calling in political favours this early in the campaign. We expect he'll bring his mentors Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton here soon too, just like he did the first two times he ran for governor", Youngkin's spokesperson Macaulay Porter said in a statement earlier this week. According to recent opinion polls, McAuliffe retains a narrow four-point lead over Youngkin.
The US president's visit to Virginia comes as McAuliffe is under scrutiny over receiving about $650,000 in donations from teachers' unions promoting critical race theory (CRT). These include the National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers' union in the US, which donated $400,000, and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) that gave McAuliffe's campaign $250,000,
CRT is based on the premise that race is not a natural and biologically grounded feature but a socially constructed category used to oppress and exploit people of colour.
According to CRT, the law and legal institutions in the US are "inherently racist" and function to create and maintain social, economic, and political inequalities between whites and non-whites, most notably African Americans.