Delicate dance for Trump, Youngkin in campaign’s final weeks


When Donald Trump rallied Republicans this week to vote for Glenn Youngkin for governor in Virginia, the previous president referred to as in to a rally of diehard supporters. That could be the closest he will get to campaigning in probably the most closely-watched election of 2021.

RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — When Donald Trump rallied Republicans this week to vote for Glenn Youngkin for governor in Virginia, the previous president referred to as in to a rally of diehard supporters. That could be the closest he will get to campaigning in probably the most closely-watched election of 2021.

Whereas schedules might evolve within the closing weeks of the race, the 2 usually are not anticipated to marketing campaign collectively in particular person earlier than Election Day subsequent month.

“Is Trump going to return to Virginia? Sure. However it is going to be after the election for a victory rally,” mentioned conservative discuss present host John Fredericks, who served as Trump’s marketing campaign chairman within the state and in addition organized Wednesday’s occasion. Youngkin’s marketing campaign confirmed Friday it doesn’t have any plans for surrogates to hitch him within the race’s closing stretch.

The dynamic displays the advanced balancing act between Trump and Youngkin and will emerge as a mannequin for different Republicans who face aggressive campaigns in 2022. The previous president stays the preferred determine in GOP politics and is raring to stay engaged. Youngkin wants Trump’s supporters to indicate as much as the polls and might’t danger giving the previous president a cause to activate him within the race’s closing weeks. However he should additionally keep away from being tied too carefully to somebody who’s unpopular in essential swaths of the state, notably the populated suburbs that encompass Washington and Richmond.

It’s a fragile balancing act for Youngkin, who’s locked in a good race with Democrat Terry McAuliffe and steered away from the Wednesday occasion. Along with Fredericks, the rally was headlined by longtime Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who might quickly discover himself charged with contempt for refusing to cooperate with a Home committee investigating the violent Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol. And it drew outrage after attendees recited the pledge of allegiance to a flag the emcee mentioned had been flown that day, a transfer Youngkin later criticized.

Whereas the previous president stays probably the most highly effective drive within the occasion 9 months after leaving workplace, he misplaced Virginia by 10 factors in 2020 and is seen favorably by simply 44% of seemingly voters within the state, in response to a latest Fox News ballot.

If Trump had been to carry a rally within the state, “it might be a catastrophe for Youngkin,” mentioned Bob Holsworth, a longtime native political analyst within the state. “It is a one that misplaced by 10 factors in Virginia, misplaced in a landslide. He’s extraordinarily unpopular in Virginia. … The extra he reveals up and he extra he participates, the more serious off it’s for Youngkin.”

That danger was underscored by the response to Wednesday’s occasion, the place Trump praised Youngkin as “a fantastic gentleman,” whereas spreading lies concerning the 2020 election.

Democrats instantly pounced, condemning what they labeled “Donald Trump’s insurrectionist rally.” McAuliffe’s marketing campaign minimize an advert that includes Trump’s reward for Youngkin, whereas McAuliffe held a press convention to tear into his opponent, each broadly for his give attention to “harmful conspiracy theories” and for his preliminary silence on the occasion itself.

Trump, for his half, additionally has little to realize by spending rather more political capital on the race. If Youngkin wins, Trump is certain to attempt to take credit score, citing his participation in Wednesday’s rally, his Might endorsement, and any future get out the vote efforts. But when Youngkin loses, Trump can blame him for not aligning himself extra carefully with the previous president.

Certainly, Trump not too long ago had warned the candidate about straying too far throughout an interview with Fredericks.

“The one guys that win are the fellows that embrace the MAGA motion,” he mentioned. “Once they try to go down a railroad observe, you realize, ‘Hey, oh yeah, certain, I like it, like it. Oh yeah, I really like Trump, love Trump, OK, let’s go, subsequent topic.’ Once they try this, they by no means win. They by no means win. They need to embrace it.”

Whereas Youngkin’s marketing campaign hasn’t featured many big-name surrogates at his political occasions, McAuliffe has been summoning Democratic star energy. President Joe Biden has already campaigned with McAuliffe and his marketing campaign instructed The Related Press this week that the president will return earlier than the Nov. 2 vote. First woman Jill Biden appeared with McAuliffe at a rally Friday and former President Barack Obama will marketing campaign with him subsequent week.

Trump spokespeople didn’t reply to questions concerning the race, and Youngkin’s marketing campaign didn’t reply to questions on Trump.

Youngkin has aimed his pitch extra towards average and unbiased voters since successful his occasion’s major. Throughout that marketing campaign, Youngkin declined to say whether or not Biden was pretty elected. He has since mentioned he believes he was — and that he doesn’t consider there was vital fraud final November.

As an alternative of following within the mildew of different blue-state Republican governors like Maryland’s Larry Hogan and Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Youngkin has run on a solidly conservative set of platforms, embracing some GOP tradition battle points and promising to assist reject the “left liberal progressive agenda” he says is shaping Virginia.

After largely pivoting away from his give attention to election integrity within the nomination contest, he’s centered marketing campaign appearances and adverts on points like crime, taxes and college alternative.

Democrats have criticized him, although, for latest remarks about auditing the state’s voting machines and for campaigning with state Sen. Amanda Chase, a distinguished promoter of election falsehoods who’s garnered the nickname “Trump in heels.”

Youngkin has additionally beforehand mentioned Trump “represents a lot of why I’m operating.”

“What Youngkin is making an attempt to do is he’s trying to take care of the MAGA base whereas absorbing the suburban defectors from the Democrats. And that’s robust,” mentioned Holsworth,

Fredericks mentioned it was a successful technique.

“Right here’s why Glenn Youngkin goes to win: We’re holding the Trump base collectively by a thread,” he mentioned. ”Glenn Youngkin and this marketing campaign has by no means deserted the core ideas which might be vital to Trump voters, not sooner or later.”

Former Virginia governor, U.S. ambassador and GOP presidential candidate Jim Gilmore mentioned Youngkin had carried out a very good job of maintaining the race tightly centered on his candidacy.

“I believe that nationalizing this marketing campaign shouldn’t be useful to both of the candidates,” he mentioned.

“Glenn’s bought to be his personal man” and “run his personal” race, agreed former U.S. Rep. Tom Davis, who represented northern Virginia’s eleventh Congressional District for 14 years.

Davis mentioned he thinks Virginia voters are extra involved about Biden, whose approval score has slumped, than Trump. Individuals voted for Biden “to get Donald Trump out of their front room,” he mentioned. “However they didn’t vote for all these things that Biden’s bringing with him. And I believe they’re going to pump the brakes.”

A number of polls launched since mid-September present a aggressive race between McAuliffe and Youngkin. Some, together with a latest ballot by Fox News, counsel McAuliffe might have a slight benefit, although Youngkin stays inside putting distance and a few voters for each candidates mentioned they could nonetheless change their minds.


Colvin reported from New York.

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Aila Slisco

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