Mike Pence urged a crowd in Loudoun County to choose "educational freedom" when they vote in next week's statewide elections in Virginia.
The former vice president issued the rallying call during a speech Thursday at Patrick Henry College, a Christian college located in Purcellville, at an event hosted by the conservative group Advancing American Freedom.
"Make your choice Virginia," Pence said, according to The Hill. "Let's choose educational freedom for this generation and the next."
"To every Loudoun County parent that is here today and all of you that are looking on, thank you," Pence continued. "Thank you for caring so much about your children's education — that you're willing to step forward and let your voice be heard."
Loudoun County has risen to the forefront of the Nov. 2 election, which includes a hotly contested governor race, particularly when it comes to education on issues such as critical race theory, transgender policies, parental involvement, and allegations of a cover-up of sexual assaults in schools.
"I'm not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision," McAuliffe said. "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
His Republican rival, Glenn Youngkin, turned McAuliffe’s statement into a campaign ad. It contrasted McAuliffe’s words with complaints from parents speaking about sexually explicit content in school materials.
"You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kid's education," Youngkin had said during the debate.
Pence praised parents for their dedication to their children's lives.
"Make no mistake about it: You're making a difference for your kids. With families here in Loudoun County, standing up for educational excellence and accountability, you are making a difference in the life of the nation," Pence said.
A poll provided to the Washington Examiner shows Youngkin was ahead of McAuliffe by 4 points, an improvement from earlier polls, with just days to go before the Nov. 2 election. McAuliffe is seeking a second non-consecutive term for governor, while Youngkin, a businessman and first-time candidate, is seeking his first term as governor.
McAuliffe held a rally on Monday in which both he and President Joe Biden made jabs at Youngkin's closing argument for his campaign, trying to stoke fears of book banning. Youngkin's closing argument featured Fairfax County resident Laura Murphy, who fought in 2013 to have schools notify parents of explicit context in assigned reading material.
In an ad from Youngkin, Murphy talks about how the book Beloved, assigned to her son, contained "some of the most explicit material you could imagine."