“From the hills of the Piedmont, to the fields of the Southside,” sang the Perriello Pickers buegrass quartet at the start of a rally held Friday, October 29 for Fifth District Democratic incumbent Tom Perriello. And if familiar melodies began the evening, a familiar refrain capped it, thanks to a visit from President Barack Obama. Four days before the November 2 congressional election, Obama reminded an estimated crowd of 10,000 people—roughly 8,000 inside the Charlottesville Pavilion and more than 2,000 in the streets surrounding the event—that “political courage is hard to come by.”
Obama, who referred to Perriello as “one of the best congressmen Virginia has ever had,” told the crowd that Perriello has not always voted according to party lines, and places his allegiance to the Fifth District and Virginia first. In a speech that focused heavily on job creation and student support, Obama singled out Perriello’s American Opportunity Tax Credit legislation and told the crowd that “the only way to fight cynicism” was to vote on November 2.
Perriello faces a tough reelection fight against Virginia Senator and Republican candidate Robert Hurt, who appeared alongside Governor Bob McDonnell, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor during a Sunday stop in Charlottesville. “I need you guys to keep on fighting, and Tom needs you to keep on believing,” said Obama near the end of his speech, jacket absent and sleeves rolled to his forearms despite temperatures that hovered in the 40s.