Virginia gubernatorial candidate and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is using his first general election television ad to tie Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin to former President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE.
In the 30-second spot, dubbed "Because of You," McAuliffe calls Youngkin a "loyalist to Donald Trump."
The ad uses audio of a radio interview Youngkin gave in May, when the Republican said Trump represents "so much of why I'm running."
Youngkin hit back at the ad in a tweet on Thursday, citing McAuliffe's quote in the ad saying he reached across the aisle to work with Republicans during his time as governor.
"He actually bragged about causing gridlock, saying he was 'proud to have more vetoes than any other governor' in VA history," Youngkin tweeted.
Terry McAuliffe has been a partisan attack dog his whole life.— Glenn Youngkin (@GlennYoungkin) July 22, 2021
He actually bragged about causing gridlock, saying he was “proud to have more vetoes than any other governor” in VA history.
As governor, I'll work across the aisle to get things done – not just talk about it. pic.twitter.com/KQkW6HhA8m
Trump has emerged as a major factor in the gubernatorial race as McAuliffe and his Democratic allies seek to tie Youngkin to the former president, who lost Virginia in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.
Youngkin's campaign, however, has also worked to link McAuliffe to Trump.
Youngkin's campaign released a digital ad earlier this month titled "Exposed: Terry McAuliffe’s Obsession With Donald Trump" in which the campaign cited a 2009 contribution Trump made to McAuliffe and footage of the two toasting each other at a 2017 dinner.
McAuliffe responded to the ad last week, telling The Hill he "got a kick out of" it.
“Trump is viscerally disliked in this state. I have beaten Trump every time here. I ran Clinton operations and I ran the Biden operations here in Virginia, and we have crushed him," McAuliffe said.
Youngkin has deployed an aggressive digital and television ad campaign in an effort to introduce himself to the electorate as a political newcomer. The Republican's first general election television ad hit the airwaves in May.
Virginia's gubernatorial race is slated to be one of the most-watched and most expensive contests of the off-year elections.
Polls show a competitive race with Youngkin narrowly trailing McAuliffe. A JMS Analytics survey released last month showed McAuliffe leading Youngkin, 46 percent to 42 percent, within the poll’s 4.2-point margin of error. Meanwhile, a poll from the right-leaning firm WPA Intelligence showed McAuliffe leading Youngkin 48 percent to 46 percent. That poll had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
Last month, the Cook Political Report moved the race from “likely Democratic” to “lean Democratic."
— Updated at 11:10 a.m.