Gillespie dismisses 'ugly character smear' comparing him to neo-Nazis
© Greg Nash

Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie is denouncing as an "ugly character smear" comparisons between his campaign and the white nationalists who rallied in Charlottesville, Va., in August.

On Friday, a tweet from CNN contributor and former Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonElise Stefanik seeks to tackle GOP’s women ‘crisis’ ahead of 2020 Russian pop star linked to Trump Tower meeting cancels US tour Graham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies MORE spokesman Brian Fallon captioned a picture of those neo-Nazis as a "live look at Ed Gillespie campaign strategy meeting.”

Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for governor, had defended a similar comparison two days earlier.

“Northam, the entire Democratic ticket and CNN should condemn this ugly character smear that has no place in our Commonwealth’s political discourse," Gillespie campaign spokesman David Abrams said in a statement to Fox News.  

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Earlier this week, the Virginia Democratic Party funded a mailer featuring an edited image of Gillespie alongside President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE above a photo of the neo-Nazi marchers in Charlottesville with tiki torches in hand. 

The "Unite the Right" demonstration, which was held around the site of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, has divided the campaigns on the issue of Confederate memorials, with Gillespie supporting leaving the statues up and Northam calling for their removal.

Both Fallon and the Democratic campaign have doubled down on the issue, calling for Gillespie to take a firm stance against the alt-right and disavow Trump's unpopular handling of the violence at the rally that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman.  

The former Clinton communications director said Gillespie "should be ashamed" of his own campaign ads on gangs and felons' rights, calling them "vile and pathetic attempt to appeal to the [Stephen] Bannon wing of Donald Trump's Republican Party." 

Northam spokesman David Turner said that Gillespie "failed" to aid the grieving Charlottesville community after the incident, and that he "should be willing to call out Donald Trump when he's wrong."

Gillespie and Northam are currently in a tight race ahead of the Nov. 7 election, with the Democrat holding a small lead in the polls.