(CNN) – One of the country’s most vulnerable House Democrats received some help Friday night from the campaigner in chief.
Freshman Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello is fighting to hold onto his Virginia seat in a heavily conservative district, and in a very cold pavilion the president made his case to Virginia’s 5th district.
“I’m not here because Tom votes with me on every issue. Sometimes he disagrees with me,” President Obama said. “I know his allegiance is not to party labels... it’s to the people of this district and the people of Virginia.”
He told the crowd that courage is hard to come by, and it is something Perriello showed in his first term in office.
Perriello voted in support of much of Obama’s agenda, including stimulus, health care reform and cap and trade legislation. Although he broke with the White House on gun control and the bailout, Friday’s visit seemed to be a thank you to the politician whose political future is in jeopardy. It also marked the first presidential campaign stop for a House candidate.
“The question I have for you is when somebody like this has your back, do you have his back?,” Obama told the crowd.
At the end of the president’s speech, he put his arm around Perriello and in his ear said, “Go win this thing,” Perriello told reporters after the event.
Perriello, who only won in 2008 by 727 votes, is now facing Virginia state senator Robert Hurt in the November election.
Obama also took the opportunity to remind voters of the 2008 election, but to keep the message of "change" in perspective.
“2008 wasn’t the end goal. It wasn’t just to put a president in, it wasn’t just to put Tom in, it was to keep building a movement for change,” Obama said. “And if everybody who fought for change in 2008 shows up in 2010, then we will win this election.”
–CNN's Shawna Shepherd and Ed Henry contributed to this report