PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Former President Donald Trump is making clear his support for Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.
Trump released a statement Friday morning in support of Youngkin (R), while also attacking former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who’s running against Youngkin this fall. He again played up McAuliffe’s connections to Hillary Clinton.
Trump had balked on endorsing a GOP candidate before the convention, but eventually endorsed Youngkin after he won the nomination in May. As President Trump continued to push lies about the 2020 election (and continues to do so to this day), Youngkin initially avoided giving a direct answer to the question of whether President Biden legitimately won the election. After winning the nomination, he replied to “was the election of 2020 legitimate or not?” with “of course.”
While the endorsement might help Youngkin with the base of the Republican Party, it may likely hurt him with independents/swing voters. Virginia hasn’t elected a Republican to statewide office since 2009, and President Biden comfortably won the commonwealth with 54.1% of the vote (2,413,568 votes) compared to 44% (1,962,403 votes) for former President Trump.
McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, has cheered Trump’s endorsement of Youngkin, telling CNN “I would pay for the fuel to get Donald Trump here. … I will gas up the plane.”
He released this statement on Friday: “I know how honored you are to have his endorsement, Glenn. Lying to voters, screwing over people with your businesses — you have so much in common. I’d bet one more thing: a resounding rejection from VA voters in November.”
Youngkin spokesperson Matt Wolking responded: “Terry McAuliffe knows he can’t beat Glenn Youngkin, which is why he is so desperate to run against someone else. The trouble for Terry is that he’s a total fraud who took $25,000 from Donald Trump, hugged Donald Trump, toasted Donald Trump, and now pretends like he hasn’t been friends with him for nearly three decades. Terry is as slimy as Bill Clinton and as dishonest as Hillary Clinton, which makes sense because they’re his two mentors.”
Youngkin has also gotten endorsements from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who came to Virginia Beach to campaign for him ahead of the GOP convention, and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley is campaigning for Youngkin next week in Richmond and Northern Virginia.
McAuliffe has attacked Youngkin this week after video secretly taped by a liberal activists shows Youngkin saying he has to limit anti-abortion comments due to fears of alienating independent voters.
When asked whether he would defund Planned Parenthood or “take it to the abortionists,” Youngkin responded, “I’m going to be really honest with you. The short answer is in this campaign, I can’t. When I’m governor and I have a majority in the House we can start going on offense. But as a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get.”
The Youngkin and McAuliffe campaigns have also sparred this week about both McAuliffe and Youngkin’s ties to the Carlyle Group, the private equity group formerly led to Youngkin.
The Associated Press reported last week that the company had purchased mobile home parks and raised rents, impacting low-income residents.
McAuliffe’s campaign recently visited a mobile home park to press that topic, but Youngkin’s campaign pushed back by emphasizing McAuliffe was a former investor in the Carlyle Group.
McAuliffe responded by saying he was a passive investor in the company.
Election Day in Virginia is November 2.