CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia. About 800 people were assembled by Democratic Congresswoman Leslie Cockburn on Sunday night at an event led by actress Olivia Wilde, the candidate's daughter.
Democrats said the size of the crowd indicated that Cockburn, a former producer and author of "60 Minutes," is gaining strength in the fifth congressional district of the state of Virginia against Republican Denver Riggleman, a distillery owner and former officer. of intelligence of the Air Force.
"This is the kind of energy we've never seen in this district for a Democrat," said Jake Rubenstein, spokesman for the Virginia Democratic Party.
The free two-hour event at the historic Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville also included Wilde's partner and famed partner, Jason Sudeikis, and a series of polished musical acts, including a folk trio that performed a campaign song written for Cockburn.
Cockburn and Riggleman compete for the vacant position by Representative Tom Garrett (R), who announced in the spring that he was fighting alcoholism and would not seek re-election to focus on recovery and his family. The mostly rural district stretches from the rich northern suburbs of Virginia to the North Carolina line with some liberal college towns in the mix.
Those attending the Cockburn demonstration were urged to register to vote before Monday's deadline and for their friends to do so. They were also asked to volunteer for the Cockburn campaign, which was often presented as an effort to push back President Trump.
"Tweeting is not important," said Sudeikis, a comedian and actor who played George W. Bush, Joe Biden and Mitt Romney for a long season on Saturday Night Live.
Sudeikis, who was born in Fairfax County but grew up in Kansas, said he was motivated to get involved like never before.
"I've never voted in the medium term in my life, I'm 43 years old," he said. "Enough is enough, I have to do everything I can to oppose and resist me."
Wilde, who appeared in the television drama of the hospital "House" and in a series of films, noted that the event took place not far from the place where the white supremacists held a deadly rally in August 2017.
"The nation is watching," he said. "This represents what is happening in this country, which is a demand for better, a demand for decency."
When the Cockburn rally began, Riggleman organized a series of events in the rural areas of Charlotte County, which were damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Michael.
"Today, while Leslie Cockburn was calling his friends in Hollywood, Denver Riggleman toured the damage caused by the storms in Charlotte County, met with the owners of small businesses and listened to the concerns of local authorities," he said. spokesman for the Republican National Committee, Garren Shipley. "Leslie can focus on Hollywood, Denver focuses on the 5th District."
In response, Rubenstein said: "If the Republican Party wants to attack a daughter who campaigns with her mother, that really shows the morality of the party of Corey Stewart and Donald Trump."
Stewart, a Trump-style provocateur, is the Republican Party candidate running against Sen. Tim Kaine (D).
Among the musical acts that were presented was the female folk trio All After Jack, which comes from the district in Franklin County. The group has made several appearances with Cockburn and has written a melody for her, a gesture reminiscent of the bluegrass campaign song written for Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) While courting rural voters in his successful bid for governor in 2001.
The song, called "We Believe", became a video that shows Cockburn interacting with voters in the middle of the district's panoramic views.
The chorus says: "We believe, in our clear imagination, young and old, all colors, all types / There is dignity and harmony, when everyone is welcome and none is left behind".
In comments to the crowd, Cockburn spoke about his opposition to some of Trump's policies, including the separation of immigrant children from their parents on the nation's border with Mexico.
"Every day, what comes from Washington is really debilitating and shocking, separating children from parents," he said. "We have to defend what is right. This is a significant violation of human rights. If we saw this happening anywhere else in the world, we would strongly condemn it. We have to protect what it means to be an American. "
Riggleman has emphasized the need for a strong border, but has said that family separations should be avoided.
Cockburn also highlighted his support for the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for All, a proposal by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) To extend the government's health insurance program for seniors to all Americans. Riggleman has said he opposed the ACA initially, but now he thinks Congress should correct its failures instead of "throwing them out." It's called Medicare for all the "pies in heaven."
On a more local issue, Cockburn highlighted his opposition to two proposed natural gas lines that would traverse parts of the district. Riggleman also opposes the pipelines, one of which was originally scheduled to cross his property in Nelson County.