President Biden echoed a common claim of Democratic Virginia gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe during an appearance at a McAuliffe campaign event, claiming Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin was seeking to ban certain books.
“Just look how he’s closing his campaign,” Biden said of Younkin during the event Tuesday. “He’s gone from banning a woman’s right to choose to banning books written by a Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison.”
President Joe Biden holds his face mask and waves as he exits Air Force One at Capital Region International Airport, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Biden’s comments come as debate has raged between the two candidates in recent weeks over what role parents should play in deciding what their kids are taught in school, with Youngkin repeatedly hammering McAuliffe for vetoing a bill that would have required that parents be notified when books containing sexually explicit material are introduced to their children.
Toni Morrison’s famous work “Beloved,” which describes scenes of sexual violence and gang rapes, has been placed firmly in at the center of the controversy, causing a parent whose son was assigned the book to successfully lobby Virginia’s GOP controlled legislature in 2016 and 2017 to pass the legislation McAuliffe would eventually veto.
Candidate for Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe speaks during his campaign rally in Dumfries, Virginia October 21, 2021. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Reuters)
McAuliffe has claimed that the bill would allow parents to ban certain books and accused Youngkin of supporting similar bans, a claim repeated by the president in his remarks Tuesday.
But that claim was also the subject of a Washington Post fact-check following the candidates’ second debate, with author Glenn Kessler concluding that McAuliffe “mischaracterized the bills he vetoed.”
“Neither bill would have allowed parents to ‘veto books’ or ‘take them off the shelves,’ according to the bills and the veto statements issued by McAuliffe at the time,” Kessler wrote. “In fact, neither had to do with books, but concerned instructional material.”
For its part, the Youngkin campaign has responded to McAuliffe’s attacks by arguing that the GOP candidate is simply seeking to give parents a say in what material their children are exposed to at school.
FILE PHOTO: Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event in McLean, Virginia, U.S., July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo (Reuters)
“The bipartisan bills McAuliffe vetoed would simply have notified parents of sexually explicit reading assignments and given them the choice of having their own child receive an alternative,” Youngkin’s campaign said. “McAuliffe continues to confirm every day that he wants to silence parents because he doesn’t believe they should have a say in their child’s education.”