Former President TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE on Monday doubled down on his support for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and suggested that a failure to embrace him and his “America First movement” would come with a political cost.
In a statement issued through his leadership PAC, Trump accused the GOP’s 2017 nominee for governor in Virginia, Ed Gillespie, of seeking his endorsement while “walking on both sides of the fence.” In turn, Trump said, his supporters sat out the race, paving the way for Democrat Ralph Northam’s victory.
“The Trump base is very large in Virginia, they understood his game, and they didn’t come out for Gillespie, nor did I do anything to help or hurt. He got creamed!” Trump said. “Now a great candidate, Glenn Youngkin, is running against political hack and unpopular former Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe.”
Trump’s remarks came as Youngkin’s campaign released a new digital ad seeking to link the Democratic nominee, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, to Trump.
The ad features a clip of McAuliffe saying that he’s “known Trump for 25 years,” and a narrator notes that McAuliffe accepted a $25,000 campaign contribution from Trump in 2009. It also includes a clip of Trump describing McAuliffe as a “friend.”
The ad was shared first on Monday with The Hill.
After the ad was released, Virginia Democrats accused Youngkin of trying to distance himself from the former president, who lost Virginia in the 2020 presidential race by 10 points. McAuliffe’s campaign responded to the ad by noting that Youngkin has been officially endorsed by Trump.
"No amount of bogus advertising will hide Virginians from Glenn Youngkin's own words: that he is 'honored' to have Donald Trump's endorsement and 'Donald Trump represents so much' of why he's running," McAuliffe's campaign said in a statement.
Trump remains deeply influential among Republican voters nationwide. But it’s unclear what role he will play in the Virginia gubernatorial race. The state has drifted to the left in recent years, with Democrats picking up control of the Virginia General Assembly in 2019 after more than two decades of GOP control.