Northam insists he'd be able to work with Trump

Northam insists he'd be able to work with Trump
© Greg Nash

Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee in the race for Virginia governor, said in a new interview he would be able to work with President Trump on certain issues if elected.

Northam told The Guardian that he would try to find common ground with the president on issues such as "building up the military."

“I’m a neurologist, so I’m used to dealing with a lot of different minds," Northam said during the interview when asked how he would be able to work with someone he has attacked. "And even being a pediatric neurologist, that gives me more perspective."

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Trump has loomed large over the race despite not being on the ballot. He has not campaigned in Virginia, but he's urged voters to support Republican Ed Gillespie in several tweets. The president has also attacked Northam over Twitter, accusing him of being soft on crime and criticizing the state's economy.

"Ralph Northam will allow crime to be rampant in Virginia. He’s weak on crime, weak on our GREAT VETS, Anti-Second Amendment and has been horrible on Virginia economy. Vote @EdWGillespie today!" Trump tweeted early Tuesday, for example.

While Northam has said before that he will work with Trump when there's common ground, the lieutenant governor has been highly critical of the president and has made that clear particularly in parts of Virginia that resoundingly voted for Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonOvernight Defense: Trump tries to quell Russia furor | GOP looks to reassure NATO | Mattis open to meeting Russian counterpart Dem pollster: GOP women have a more difficult time winning primary races than Dems Mellman: (Mis)interpreting elections MORE in 2016.

Northam has run ads that he will stand up to Trump mainly in northern Virginia and other parts of the state where Democrats are favored to perform better. He's refrained from running those ads in places like southwest Virginia where Trump support still runs strong since last November.

Northam has also sought to link Gillespie to Trump, saying the Virginia Republican would be in lockstep with the president if he's elected governor.

During the Guardian interview, Northam also criticized his Republican rival, saying he doesn't think Virginia has "ever witnessed as negative a campaign as Ed Gillespie."

"Things like ads saying that I support MS-13 gangs. I mean, come on," Northam said, adding that his opponent is running a campaign on "hatred and bigotry."

The stakes are high in Virginia as Democrats look to maintain their hold on the governor's mansion.

The race has become a fierce battle in its final months, as polls show Gillespie gaining on Northam.

 

--Lisa Hagen contributed to this report, which was updated at 12:16 p.m.