Bill Kristol endorses McAuliffe in Virginia governor's race

Longtime conservative commentator and vocal critic of former President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE Bill Kristol on Tuesday endorsed Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor's race. 

Kristol is one of 17 Republicans who will formally endorse the former governor on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

“He’s a moderate Democrat, and he’s not going to shut down Virginia’s business success, economic success and so forth. He’s the kind of Democrat I’m comfortable supporting,” Kristol told the Post. 

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Kristol, who served as chief of staff to former Vice President Dan Quayle, is known for helping to quash former President Clinton's health care plan in 1993 and pushing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003. 

However, Kristol in recent years has been known as one of the most outspoken conservative critics of Trump. Kristol criticized Youngkin's initial embrace of Trump during the GOP convention earlier this year. 

“Many of them had photos of Trump, or quotes from Trump. And I remember more vividly than that, his top issue was election integrity,” he said, referring to campaign mailers during the convention. “And I thought, ‘Oh, my God. Really?’ ... I think he made his bet that he had to be pretty Trumpy to win the nomination, and then he’s stayed there.”

Youngkin's campaign brushed off Kristol's endorsement, telling the Post in a statement that "it exemplifies McAuliffe’s old and tired way of doing things that has failed Virginia.” 

“A 43-year political boss like Terry McAuliffe trotting out the endorsements of fellow political grifters is neither impressive nor surprising,” Youngkin campaign spokesman Matt Wolking said. 

The endorsement comes as Virginia Democrats eagerly work to tie Youngkin to Trump, who lost Virginia in 2016 and 2020. 

The Cook Political Report rates the Virginia race as "lean Democratic." A Roanoke College poll released last week showed McAuliffe with an 8-point lead over Youngkin, while a Virginia Commonwealth University poll released last week showed McAuliffe with a 3-point lead.