Ann Holton, former first lady of Virginia and wife of vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine, visited UVa Thursday night in the hopes of bringing voters out to the polls to elect the Clinton-Kaine ticket on November 8.
Dorothy McAuliffe, wife of the current governor of Virginia, accompanied Holton on the panel. Two former first ladies also took the stage – Jeannie Baliles, Chair of the Virginia Literacy Foundation, and Linda Johnson Robb, Chair of the Virginia Task Force on Infant Mortality and daughter of former U.S. president Lyndon B. Johnson.
After introducing the four women in attendance, the panel asked members what they believe is at stake in the upcoming election. To this McAuliffe smiled and responded, “I don’t know how much time we have.”
With the October 17 registration deadline fast approaching, McAuliffe was quick to stress the need for millennial voters to come out in support of a nominee who best represents their ideals.
“Remember that the values that this country was founded on were those of resilience, and inclusion, immigration, the respect and diversity of new ideas, so for me,” McAuliffe remarked. “That is probably the most important thing that I think is at stake here.”
The University of Virginia – an institution that McAuliffe applauded Thursday for registering the most student voters of any college in the United States – sits in the center of a swing state up for grabs in the election that is just under one month away.
“We have made a lot of advances, but one of the things that we all know is that these can be pushed back,” Johnson stressed, echoing the tone McAuliffe had set just a few moments before. “We cannot let anyone stay home. We’ve got to get our voters out.”
But with this urgency, there was also a lightheartedness. Throughout the event, each of the four women took turns cracking jokes and explaining their links to the University.
“I came to Charlottesville about the same time, actually a few years before Linda and Chuck did, with a husband who needed to go to law school and a wife who needed to support him,” Jeannie Baliles quipped with a smile.
When it was Holton’s turn to take the stage, the conversation shifted to a Q&A about the issues that mattered most to millennial voters. Climate change, education, racism and abortion rights were among the first topics to be volunteered by the crowd, with student debt, gun control, and wealth inequality not far behind.
Holton also emphasized some of the issues that husband Tim Kaine has championed throughout his campaign. In addition to a brief mention of the minimum wage and a shortage of jobs for this era’s college graduates, she spoke primarily of a double standard for women, highlighting the pay cuts – and even job loss – that American women face for taking days off when their children fall ill.
Perhaps most significantly, Holton underscored the importance of active voter participation, specifically among college students: “When people vote, democracy works. And when young people vote, Democrats win.”