On what many would argue is the most important day of the year (Opening Day for Major League Baseball), Tom Perriello held a meet and greet with about 40 people in McLean. Interesting enough, the group that hosted the event — Virginia Democracy Forward — had also hosted an event for Ralph Northam, so this was a very good way to compare the reaction that the candidates received from the crowd.
One aspect that I noticed right away was that I wasn’t the only person who had traveled quite a bit to make it to the event. There were several other people who made the trip out from Loudoun County, for instance, and a number of people were there from Arlington and Alexandria. This makeup also made for an interesting dynamic because it combined the inner suburbs with more of the exurbs (one of the people from Loudoun had actually been at a meeting of rural Democrats earlier this weekend).
With that in mind, it was good to hear Tom mention that a progressive campaign can help rally both those at the base of the Democratic Party and the rural voters that many claim we need to do a better job of reaching out to. The plain and simple fact that he had people from both deep blue Arlington and more rural parts of Loudoun there supporting his campaign seems to suggest that’s the case.
It was also very interesting to compare the way Tom interacted with this crowd compared to how Ralph Northam did a little over a month ago. Tom, who openly admits he’s a policy wonk, for instance, really seemed to enjoy interacting with the crowd. After making a point of talking with almost every person in attendance for at least a couple seconds, he went on to give a 15 minute opening speech then take questions for a good 20 to 25 minutes.
Northam, on the other hand, only took questions for about 10 minutes after giving his speech even though he had a larger crowd there. He did, however, go on to speak with people one on one for a few minutes afterwards.
It was also a perfect setting for Tom as he ended up speaking in the backyard. Anyone who’s seen Perriello speak probably realized that he doesn’t like to stand still. So much so that he often makes fun of himself for it. This setting allowed him to move constantly as he was trying to make sure he addressed the entire crowd.
For those who are interested, here’s the video of Tom’s speech.