Virginia Democrats traded their winter coats and a traditional February date (a date so sacred legislative battles were fought over it) for the state party's annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Richmond for a steamy June evening and a fiery speech from Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden blasted this year's Republican "Tea Party" ticket, raising his voice with a full-throated defense of the middle class. Alternating between relative calm and passionate shouts, the crowd of around 1,000 donors and activists leapt to their feet the fastest as Biden assailed Ken Cuccinelli's refusal to support the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Biden was the lead sponsor of the original version of VAWA as a Senator in 1994.
Senator Tim Kaine had a similar callback to his previous work in his speech, alluding to his past as a civil rights lawyer and Catholic missionary in celebrating this week's landmark Supreme Court rulings that advanced LGBT rights. Kaine channeled a preacher, quoting famed civil rights anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" ("God of our weary years, God of our silent tears"), reminding the crowd of the long fights in the vineyards of LGBT activists past.
Terry McAuliffe introduced Biden as the husband of Dr. Jill Biden, a professor at Northern Virginia Community College. Biden declared Virginia's higher education system the finest in the nation and urged Virginians to vote to defend it.
Biden may have telegraphed major themes of a potential 2016 Presidential run throughout his speech, which focused on retaining the promise America made to its middle class and decrying those unable to understand their struggle. Lowering his voice into a storytelling register, Biden spoke of working class families making the "longest walk" up the stairs to tell their children that they may not go to college. His populist refrain, said with wounded exasperation: "I don't know where they come from."
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