Sen. Warner weighs in on Virginia gubernatorial election; Youngkin responds to rally’s flag pledge

Virginia

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe has three weeks to close the deal with Virginia voters.

Polls show the race for the governor’s mansion remains a toss-up. According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight, McAuliffe holds a 2.5% lead over Republican challenger Glenn Youngkin.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (L) and Glenn Youngkin (R) participate in a roundtable at WAVY-TV studios on Oct. 7, 2021 (WAVY Photo)

Virginia’s senior U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D), stopped by WAVY-TV Thursday afternoon and offered a prediction regarding two regions that are must-wins for any statewide candidate.

“Northern Virginia is going to go for the Democrat; Hampton Roads is more up in the air,” he said.

In recent weeks, Youngkin has sought to distance himself from former President Donald Trump, but that approach failed Wednesday night.

A headshot of Mark Warner when he ran for U.S. Senate.

Trump, in a phone call into a Steve Bannon-sponsored rally in Richmond, predicted a Youngkin win.

The former Carlyle Group Co-CEO did not attend the rally, and when WAVY-TV asked about the Trump comment, a spokesperson for Youngkin would only point WAVY-TV in the direction of a tweet posted by CNN reporter Eva McKend. McKend quoted Youngkin as saying, among other things, “I appreciate those [Trump’s] comments.”

Organizers of the rally also claim a flag used during the rally for the Pledge of Allegiance was present at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s Capitol Building.

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2021, file photo insurrections loyal to President Donald Trump rally at the U.S. Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

In a recording of the rally, a presenter introduced “Kim from Chesapeake” — a woman who appeared on stage carrying the so-called Jan. 6 American flag. Democrats pounced and late Thursday, Youngkin issued a statement saying the use of the flag was “weird and wrong.”

Warner offered this assessment on the latest developments.

“Donald Trump was calling in — weighing in — on a rally last night with his big lie theory with the election. It will be interesting to see if Donald Trump comes to Virginia for Glenn Youngkin, who is trying to have it both ways — taking his support, but trying not to be affiliated with Donald Trump. I don’t know if Trump will allow that to play out in these three weeks,” Warner said.

Warner, himself a former Virginia governor, has another prediction for any politician — local or national — who embraces Trump-style politics.

(WAVY photo: Stephanie Hudson)

“January 6th was one of the worst days in our nation’s history. I was on the floor of the Senate as those insurrectionists broke in and threatened all of us,” he said, going on to add that Trump-style politics will only produce poor returns.

“Trump and some of his acolytes are pitting one group of Virginians or Americans against another. That may pay short-term electoral benefits, but it does not advance the standing of Virginia and our country,” Warner said.

Youngkin has walked a fine line. He’s kept his distance from Trump but he has called for an audit of Virginia’s voting machines in an apparent nod to Trump’s incessant but false claims that President Joe Biden stole the 2020 election.

“How much longer will Trumpism be around? That may be the question of our time… How much longer will Trumpism exist? I think is up to all of us regardless of our party and I appeal to so many of my Republican friends that they need to take back their party,” Warner said.

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