Former President Barack Obama will return to campaigning next week in his first public foray into electoral politics since leaving office in January.
Obama will stump for Ralph Northam, the Democratic candidate for Virginia governor, at an Oct. 19 rally in Richmond, Va., Northam’s campaign announced Wednesday.
Obama “will discuss the need for the next governor to create economic opportunity for all Virginians — no matter who you are or where you’re from,” the Northam campaign said in a press release.
President Donald Trump endorsed the Republican candidate, Ed Gillespie, in a tweet Thursday, saying that Northam “is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities.”
Polls compiled by RealClearPolitics show Northam leading Gillespie by around 7 points for the Nov. 7 contest.
Obama carried Virginia in both 2008 and 2012, and announced that he would campaign for Northam earlier this summer. Other than a few paid speeches and some statements, Obama has been mostly stayed out of national politics since January.
Gillespie’s camp was not worried that Obama would be on the campaign trail.
“How many Democratic surrogates is it going to take to try to drag the lieutenant governor across the finish line?” Gillespie’s spokesman David Abrams told the Washington Post in June. “Virginians deserve to hear from candidates directly, in their own voices, about their own ideas and proposals.”