It is no accident that Obama's campaign stop at Richmond was also planned. The state capital and its surrounding suburbs are a key battleground in the state. This is also the city Obama ran for governor in now-Gov. Ralph Northam days before the 2017 gubernatorial election.
Youngkin was also in the area on Saturday. McAuliffes rally was happening at the same time that McAuliffes hosted a meet-and-greet at a Richmond restaurant a few miles away. He also had two rallies in Richmond suburbs, Chesterfield, and Henrico scheduled for Saturday.
Youngkin, however, is using a different strategy to McAuliffe. Youngkins campaign stated that it would abandon national surrogates for the Richmond-area events and the rest on his bus tour. McAuliffe was mocked by Youngkin in a statement in which he said McAuliffe relied on large surrogates to draw in small, indifferent crowds.
Youngkin is not abandoning national Republicans. He has previously fought alongside politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R.Texas), and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley was the headliner at a recent fundraiser for Youngkin. The goal of not including big-name Republicans during the last days of the race was to not remind voters about Trump, who has backed the campaign but has not yet physically appeared in the state.
Zack Roday, a Richmond-based Republican strategist, stated that the biggest reason is that it is a state that is clearly politically difficult for Republicans. Roday stated that Democrats bringing in big names is a great contrast to Youngkin's work with the Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's 2014 victory was a result of Democrats bringing in heavy hitters like McAuliffe, to try and energize the base.
He stated that he expected Youngkin would continue to put great emphasis on education during the final days of the race. He said that he has smartly chosen tactics. To emphasize this, he used tactics on the bus tour. If it's working, there is no need to shift gears.
Democrats have been trying for Trump's visit for years, hoping to highlight the connections between Youngkin and Trump and to secure the votes of those who fled the GOP due to Trump. However, Democrats are hopeful that Trump's visits by top surrogates will spark support.
These core Democrats like the Obamas increase the chances of getting Democrats who feel apathetic or don't want to come out.
Cooperman, whose firm conducted an independent poll on the race, said that McAuliffe should be able turn out Democrats to win this race. They might not be enthusiastic about him but Obama may give them an extra push.