Former President Obama campaigns in Richmond, Va. for Northam

Former President Obama campaigns in Richmond, Va. for Northam
Former President Barack Obama (Source: Facebook)
Former President Barack Obama (Source: Facebook)
Ralph Northam (Source: NBC12)
Ralph Northam (Source: NBC12)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - More than 6,200 people packed into the Greater Richmond Convention Center to hear former President Barack Obama campaign on behalf of Ralph Northam for governor.

The Democratic candidate has had a slight lead in polls against his major opponent, Republican Ed Gillespie.

While Obama's presence was aimed at getting the Democratic ticket elected, much of his speech centered on themes of needing unity and equality at a divisive time in the country. He said Northam, Virginia's current lieutenant governor, was the candidate who can deliver it.

Resuming his rock star campaign style, Obama stumped for a candidate for the first time since leaving office. He even resumed his old rally cry: "Are you fired up?  Are you ready to go?"

Obama kept to his usual form, never mentioning President Donald Trump by name, but he did criticize the current political climate.

"So the question now, at a time when our politics seem so divided, so angry and so nasty, is whether we can recapture that spirit, whether we can embrace someone who wants to bring people together," said the former president. "Yes, we can."

Obama called for equality, referencing the deadly alt-right demonstration in Charlottesville and recalling some of the infamous words of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.

"Do you believe that everybody should be judged, not by the color of their skin, or who they love, or their last name, but by the content of their character and their contributions to this great state?" said Obama.

Obama endorsed Northam as the candidate that can unify the people.

"Do you want an economy that only works for the very top, or do you want an economy that works for everybody?" he said.

Northam echoed that theme.

"No individual, no family should be one medical illness away from financial demise. We can't let that happen in the richest country in the world," he said, while reiterating his campaign promises to raise the minimum wage, expand medicaid, and bring the state together.

Attorney General Mark Herring and lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax also spoke, as well as Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, U.S. Rep. Don McEachin and U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott.

Ed Gillespie, the former National Republic Committee chair, has support from political heavy weights, too. President Trump has endorsed him, Vice President Mike Pence just campaigned for him in Southwest Virginia and former President George W. Bush spoke for him at two fundraisers for him this week.

Northam and Gillespie face Libertarian Cliff Hyra. Election day is 19 days away. Polls show Northam, Virginia's current lieutenant governor, leading GOP candidate Ed Gillespie by as much as 14 points and as little as 4 points.

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