Virginia GOP apologizes for 'heritage' tweets
© Greg Nash

The Virginia Republican Party has apologized for messages posted on the party's Twitter account on Wednesday that attacked Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) for "turning his back" on his family's slave-owning heritage by endorsing the removal of Confederate monuments.

"Our previous tweets were interpreted in a way we never intended," the party wrote on Twitter. "We apologize and reiterate our denunciation of racism in all forms."

Two tweets posted earlier Wednesday accused Northam, whose ancestors owned slaves in the state, of turning his back on the state's history, and said he "will do anything or say anything" to become governor of Virginia.

The tweets have since been deleted, but screenshots exist.

.@RalphNortham has turned his back on his own family’s heritage in demanding monument removal (1/2),” the tweets read. “Shows @RalphNortham will do anything or say anything to try and be #VAGov - #Pathetic 2/2.”

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Northam immediately condemned the messages, remarking that he felt "fine about turning his back on white supremacy."

“I feel fine about turning my back on white supremacy. How does @EdWGillespie feel about the president’s position?” Northam tweeted at Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor.

A spokesman for Gillespie told The Hill that the party was "right" to take down the messages.

"The RPV was right to apologize for the tweet and to take it down. Though Ed disagrees with the Lieutenant Governor on the issue of statues, he knows we can disagree on issues like this without devolving into divisive rhetoric," wrote David Abrams, a spokesman for Gillespie.

The party was immediately met with strong criticism for the tweets. The Daily Beast claimed the Virginia Republicans had accused Northam of being a "race traitor," while a former Republican state lawmaker tweeted his disgust at the party's account.

“Have you lost your minds -- who is in control of your twitter act?” wrote former GOP delegate David Ramadan.