Lincoln Project says it sent people with tiki torches to Youngkin event

The Lincoln Project said it sent people with tiki torches to a campaign event held by Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn YoungkinGlenn YoungkinNortham announces final steps in clearing, ceding area where Lee monument stood Judges uphold GOP win for Virginia state House seat, cementing party control of chamber Georgia becomes ground zero for 2022 elections MORE on Friday, sparking backlash against the activist group.

The anti-Trump group issued a statement saying it pulled the stunt in Charlottesville because Youngkin has not condemned the 2017 “Unite the Right” white nationalist rally. 

“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the statement said.

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“If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches,” the group continued. “Until then, we’ll be back.”

Earlier on Friday, a group of men holding torches stood next to Youngkin's campaign bus while he was inside a restaurant in Charlottesville, NBC 29 reported. Youngkin accused the men of working for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffeTerry McAuliffeNortham announces final steps in clearing, ceding area where Lee monument stood Judges uphold GOP win for Virginia state House seat, cementing party control of chamber To empower parents, reinvent schools MORE

“They’ll do anything to win, and he’s doing anything to win, and so he’s paying people to show up and act silly at our rallies,” Youngkin told NBC29.

 

McAuliffe’s campaign condemned the stunt. 

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“What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful and the McAuliffe campaign condemns it in the strongest terms,” McAuliffe’s campaign manager Chris Bolling tweeted. “Those involved should immediately apologize.”

The Virginia Democratic Party said it did not have "any role" in Friday's event, and said it was "shameful and wrong" to make any such allegations.

Vice News has identified one of the people involved as Lauren Windsor, a liberal activist known for going undercover to get politicians to share their unfiltered thoughts.

Windsor confirmed on Twitter that she worked with the Lincoln Project to coordinate the stunt “in my capacity as a communications consultant.”

“I join them in the fight to defend our democracy from rightwing extremists and call for Glenn Youngkin to denounce Trump’s ‘very fine people,’” Windsor said.

 

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The stunt comes days ahead of the hotly contested Nov. 2 election, with both candidates neck and neck in polls. It also comes as a trial began this week in a civil lawsuit against two dozen people involved in the August 2017 rally. 

The rally in Charlottesville began with scores of young white men chanting while carrying torches across the University of Virginia campus. It ended the following day when a self-professed neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd, killing a counterprotester.

Friday's incident involving tiki torches, which drudged up memories from the Charlottesville rally, sparked intense backlash on social media.

Connor Rogers, who previously worked as the Lincoln Project’s digital director, said that Heather Heyer, the counter-protester who died in Charlottesville, is "not a prop or a stunt."

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