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‘Stop being timid. Be bold’: Dems hammer vaccine mandate message in Virginia

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Terry McAuliffe is leaning in on vaccines as the potential key to opening up a tight race for Virginia governor.

McAuliffe, a Democrat who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, has launched an extensive paid advertising campaign going after Republican Glenn Youngkin for not supporting pandemic-related government mandates, and it was one of the Democrat’s primary talking points during the first gubernatorial debate last week.

Youngkin is vaccinated and has been encouraging others to get shots, but he does not support mandates. McAuliffe does support a wide array of mandates — on Wednesday, his campaign put out a new call for child care providers to require staff to be fully vaccinated — and he’s talking about the contrast stridently: “He’s not requiring vaccinations. That’s the difference between the two of us,” McAuliffe said in last week’s debate.

The Democratic push on vaccine policy isn’t new in the last few weeks, but it has escalated in Virginia at the same time that the party celebrated victory in California’s recall election, in which Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom focused on vaccine mandates as he brushed back the effort to remove him. Newsom cast his victory as a message to national Democrats “that we need to stiffen our spines and lean in to keeping people safe and healthy” in a post-recall interview with CBS News.

“It's as simple as can be: Stop being timid. Be bold,” Ace Smith, a lead strategist for Newsom in California, said in an interview. Smith praised McAuliffe for campaigning on mandates. “It’s just one of those rare places where good policy actually meets good politics.”

More than 60 percent of McAuliffe’s TV ads over the past week-and-a-half have attacked Youngkin on pandemic policy, according to data from the ad tracking firm AdImpact. The most frequently aired spots featured a doctor lambasting Youngkin over vaccine mandates for health care workers and mask mandates in schools. Two other mandate-focused spots — one an attack ad tying former President Donald Trump to Youngkin on the pandemic, another........

© Politico

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