Fault lines over schools shape Virginia race: The Note

The close of the governor's race brings a renewed focus on the suburbs.

October 27, 2021, 6:00 AM

The TAKE with Rick Klein

To hear the Democratic candidate describe it, his opponent wants to ban books from schools.

To hear the Republican candidate describe it, his opponent wants to ban parents from shaping what their children learn.

The closing days of the race for governor in Virginia are playing out along lines that are at least perceived to resonate among parents -- particularly across the suburbs that are likely to determine who wins next Tuesday.

Issues of school choice, parents' rights and COVID-era safety restrictions are now central to the messaging of both Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin's chief strategist told The Associated Press the campaign has long been aimed at reaching "Peloton dads and soccer moms" -- independent voters, mainly in the suburbs, who are dialed in to how their kids learn now more than ever.

President Joe Biden campaigned with McAuliffe Tuesday night in a Washington, D.C. suburb, in just one reflection of the national stakes.

"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,” Biden said Tuesday night, referring to Youngkin.

The race carries major implications for both parties' messaging and motivations. It has featured attacks and counterattacks on mask and vaccine mandates, school board activism, violence in schools, critical race theory and basic questions of curriculum -- including, now, a rehashed debate over whether parents get to decide if a Toni Morrison novel is appropriate for their high schooler.

It's a hodgepodge of hot buttons that is familiar to cable news viewers these days. Whether and how they resonate for voters could determine this election and a whole lot more.

The RUNDOWN with Alisa Wiersema

For the second time this month, a bipartisan group of lawmakers publicly questioned the impact of social media platforms' content on children and teens. On Tuesday, representatives from YouTube, TikTok and Snap -- the parent company of Snapchat -- testified about their platforms' practices and defended their respective companies' attempts at protecting youth from inappropriate content.

The hearing, which lasted more than three hours, comes after weeks of scrutiny aimed at Facebook due to a whistleblower report revealing the company knew the platform triggered body image issues among girls.

PHOTO: Jennifer Stout (L), Vice President of Global Public Policy at Snap Inc., and Michael Beckerman (R), Vice President and Head of Public Policy at TikTok, testify before a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Oct. 26, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Stout (L), Vice President of Global Public Policy at Snap Inc., and Michael Beckerman (R), Vice President and Head of Public Policy at TikTok, testify before a Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security hearing on Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube, Oct. 26, 2021, in Washington, D.C.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Throughout Tuesday's hearing, testimony from company executives reiterated steps their platforms have taken to promote safety while blocking young users from encountering harmful content. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle pointed out that their offices were able to find loopholes within those measures and hammered the three platforms on being more thorough about addressing children's health and safety.

"Being different from Facebook is not a defense. That bar is in the gutter. It's not a defense to say that you are different. What we want is not a race to the bottom, but really, a race to the top," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, while adding that all of the platforms effectively had the same user-dependent business model.

Although the hearing demonstrated lawmakers' determination to keep social media companies' accountability to users in the spotlight, the senators were generally unable to reach any conclusive agreements with the executives about legislation that would address their safety concerns.

The TIP with Meg Cunningham

President Joe Biden appointed Washington state's Secretary of State Kim Wyman, a Republican, to lead a top elections office within the Department of Homeland Security on Tuesday.

Wyman, who has bipartisan backing from election officials, has continuously shut down former President Donald Trump's baseless claims of election fraud and has been a vocal supporter of voting by mail, which has been the primary method of casting a ballot in Washington since the 2010s.

PHOTO: Kim Wyman, Washington state's Secretary of State, poses for a photo on Sept. 15, 2020, in Olympia, Wash.
Kim Wyman, Washington state's Secretary of State, poses for a photo on Sept. 15, 2020, in Olympia, Wash.
Ted S. Warren/AP, FILE

In her role at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Wyman will be tasked with coordinating state and local officials as they work to detect and respond to election integrity threats, like hacks or disinformation campaigns.

"The goal is clear: we must protect and defend the Constitutional pillar of our republic – elections," Wyman wrote in a post announcing her appointment.


ABC News' "Start Here" Podcast. Wednesday morning's episode begins with the vote by an FDA advisory panel greenlighting the Pfizer vaccine for kids 5-11. ABC News' Anne Flaherty talks next steps and breaks down a new COVID-19 travel update. Then, ABC News' Luis Martinez reports on the ISIS-K threat on the ground in Afghanistan. And, ESPN's Emily Kaplan details the investigation into allegations of sexual assault by an NHL coach against a player in 2010. http://apple.co/2HPocUL


  • President Joe Biden participates virtually in the annual East Asia Summit at 8:30 a.m.
  • White House press secretary Jen Psaki holds a briefing at 1 p.m.
  • The White House COVID-19 response team and public health officials hold a briefing at 2:30 p.m.
  • First lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Douglas Emhoff attend the Senate Spouses Luncheon at the Library of Congress at 12 p.m. The first lady delivers remarks.
  • Republican nominee for governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin continues his bus tour around the commonwealth with campaign events in Rocky Mount at 9:30 a.m., Roanoke at noon and Pulaski at 5 p.m. To end the night, he holds a GOTV concert with John Rich in Blacksburg at 7 p.m.
  • Republican nominee for governor of New Jersey Jack Ciattarelli holds campaign events in Wayne at 10 a.m., Ramsey at 11:30 a.m., Rutherford at 2 p.m., Hoboken at 5 p.m., Fairfield at 6:30 p.m. and Cedar Grove at 7:30 p.m.
  • Democratic nominee for governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe holds campaign events in Danville at 12:30 p.m. and Lynchburg at 3:15 p.m.
  • Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., campaign for McAuliffe in Northern Virginia at 6:45 p.m. and 7 p.m., respectively.
  • The Senate Judiciary Committee holds an oversight meeting examining the Department of Justice.
  • Download the ABC News app and select "The Note" as an item of interest to receive the day's sharpest political analysis.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the day's top stories in politics. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

    Related Topics