Perriello: Refugees are vetted ‘more thoroughly than the average Trump appointee’
Nine days after the gubernatorial hopeful took a tour of Catoctin Creek Distillery, a popular small business in Purcellville, Perriello hit the other side of the county to attend a prayer session and speak with members of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society in Sterling. ADAMS is one of the largest mosques in the D.C. region.
The Perriello campaign billed the event as a chance to “show solidarity with Muslim Americans and emphasize [the candidate's] commitment to protecting their rights.”
The Democrat's visit came two days after a federal judge in Hawaii put a hold on President Donald Trump's revised travel ban to Muslim-majority countries. The new measure removed Iraq from the list of banned countries, exempted Visa and Green Card holders and removed a provision that some claimed prioritized religious minorities in the Muslim countries. A Maryland judge has also ruled against Trump's new order.
Perriello, a former Congressman and diplomat, sharply condemned Trump's orders. He said he's worked with refugees both in the U.S. and in conflict zones.
“There's no group that is more thoroughly vetted,” Perriello said. “These refugees are being vetted a lot more thoroughly than the average Donald Trump appointee.”
Perriello continued, “Having worked in the national security sphere, I can assure you that the kinds of things President Trump is doing directly undermine our national security, our standing in the world, our ability to conduct intelligence and diplomacy efforts … He's using the kind of language and tactics that only help embolden those who want to hurt the United States.”
The Trump administration has said it will appeal the orders from Hawaii and Maryland. The president has maintained the intent of his order is to keep America safe.
Perriello, who represented the Charlottesville area in the House of Representatives from 2009 until 2011, is viewed as the underdog in the Democratic nomination fight against current Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D). The Perriello campaign has pushed back against the notion Northam is the front-runner despite the lieutenant governor's lead in campaign cash and political infrastructure.
“We are going to go and fight for every vote in the reddest counties of the state, because I want to govern all of Virginia,” Perriello said.
Speaking with reporters at the ADAMS mosque, Perriello underscored his support for raising the state's minimum wage – though he didn't announce a specific figure – and fighting against what he called “rigged” election districts for the state's General Assembly. Both the state House of Delegates and the Senate are currently controlled by the GOP.
Opponents of Virginia's election districts, which are drawn every 10 years by the General Assembly, say they've been gerrymandered to favor Republicans, and a state court is currently hearing a case on the matter.
Perriello said the "rigged state legislature" is to blame for Virginia's denial of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, a major policy defeat of Gov. Terry McAuliffe's administration.
"If we had a legislature that actually worked for the people instead of working for the lobbyists who drew the map lines, then you would see common-sense issues like early childhood development, infrastructure and Medicaid expansion have a much greater chance," he said.
On the Republican primary side, former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and State Sen. Frank W. Wagner (R-Virginia Beach) are seeking the nomination. Businessman Denver Riggleman, co-owner of Silverback Distillery in Nelson County, dropped out of the GOP primary race Thursday.
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