President Joe Biden received criticism Tuesday after calling former Virginia Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe “the real governor” of the state, despite McAuliffe’s loss to Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin in 2021.
At the start of his campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia, on Tuesday, Biden pointed to McAuliffe and described him as “the real governor.”
“Hello, Virginia,” Biden said. “And the real governor, Terry McAuliffe.”
Contrary to Biden’s statement, McAuliffe lost to Youngkin by over 60,000 votes in the state’s 2021 election. From 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe served as governor of Virginia, but was denied another term due to Youngkin’s historic win in 2021.
CBS News reported that Tuesday’s campaign rally in Virginia marked Biden’s first joint campaign event with Vice President Kamala Harris during the 2024 presidential race. Biden’s speech centered around abortion and how former President Donald Trump contributed to the Supreme Court reversal of Roe v. Wade.
In response to Biden’s statement during Tuesday’s rally, Youngkin tweeted, “Mr. President, I’m right here.”
Additionally, Rob Damschen, a Youngkin spokesman, stated, “There are only two options here: Either the President doesn’t know who is Governor of Virginia right now, or he’s denying the results of Virginia’s 2021 election.”
The president’s comment prompted multiple political analysts and political leaders to question why Biden would make a statement that appeared to deny the results of Virginia’s election since the president has repeatedly slammed Trump for refusing to accept the 2020 election results.
“This is monstrously stupid, even if intended as a silly joke,” Jonah Goldberg, a CNN contributor and editor of The Dispatch, said. “If you’re going to make the other side’s election denial central to your campaign, the last thing you want to do is this nonsense.”
Pointing out the president’s apparent double standard, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares shared the video of Biden’s comment on social media alongside the caption, “So Joe Biden is an election denier?”
In light of the criticism Biden received Tuesday, a White House official told The New York Post that the president’s comment was not intended to represent a denial of the state’s 2021 election results.
“The President was making a joke about McAuliffe’s previous term as governor,” the anonymous White House official said. “He congratulated Governor Youngkin on his election out of the gate and has worked across the aisle with him ever since.”