This drawback for Youngkin was highlighted on Friday when the previous President — who handily misplaced Virginia in each 2016 and 2020 — issued a press release praising the Republican businessman and attacking Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe, who led the commonwealth from 2014 to 2018.
Trump lauded Youngkin’s ballot numbers and known as him an “incredible success” and “highly respected person” who will “truly Make Virginia Great Again,” tying the Republican candidate to the President’s personal marketing campaign slogan. He then went on to assault McAuliffe as a “failed and unpopular governor” who took marketing campaign donations from him and “would do whatever I wanted.”
“Trump is deeply unpopular where Youngkin needs the votes,” mentioned Chris Saxman, a former Republican state senator who blogs about Virginia politics.
Youngkin’s technique since successful the nomination earlier this 12 months has been to solid himself as a political outsider, enjoying up his enterprise background and touting himself as somebody untethered to any political partisanship.
The businessman’s public message, notably in his paid promoting, has additionally centered on broad proposals aimed on the center of the citizens — together with a sequence of state tax and profit coverage proposals to help army veterans that the Republican nominee introduced this week — and fewer in regards to the sort of tradition warfare points that animated Trump’s tenure.
Youngkin made that clear in a newly surfaced video that exhibits the Republican final month telling a liberal activist posing as an abortion opponent that whereas he might “go on offense” on abortion, specializing in the problem “won’t win my independent votes that I have to get.”
Youngkin’s outsider technique could possibly be efficient in opposition to McAuliffe, a Democrat whose a long time of elevating cash for the occasion has made him the prototypical political insider. But the most important risk to that technique could possibly be Trump himself, a politician who, in his quest to rebuild his political energy after his 2020 loss, is raring to tie himself to Republicans on the rise like Youngkin.
“I’m sure Youngkin’s pollsters were not pleased, but his political team was glad it came out on a Friday in July,” mentioned Saxman of the Trump assertion. “The base will love it and Glenn needs to get them fired up, since this is a base election, but the downside for him is that this might help McAuliffe with his base even more.”
McAuliffe himself and his prime marketing campaign aides have cheered any point out of Youngkin and Trump in the identical sentence. Their perception: The extra Trump will get concerned within the Virginia race, the better will probably be for them to win.
“Absolutely,” McAuliffe mentioned with fun, “I will gas up the plane.”
A senior McAuliffe aide instructed CNN that they may use the assertion in opposition to Youngkin when potential, however that the strain round Trump and Youngkin simply additional highlights the Republican candidate has a “tough balance of trying to keep the base fired up” whereas figuring out that what they need is out of step with most Virginia voters.
“That is their core challenge, which is going to be continually tough for them,” the aide mentioned.
The Democratic Governors Association responded to the Trump assertion with a easy query: “When’s the Trump-Youngkin rally in Virginia?”
Youngkin’s marketing campaign responded to the Trump assertion by accusing the previous Democratic governor of being tied to Trump himself.
“Terry McAuliffe knows he can’t beat Glenn Youngkin, which is why he is so desperate to run against someone else,” mentioned Matt Wolking, Youngkin’s communications director and a former Trump aide. “The trouble for Terry is that he’s a total fraud who took $25,000 from Donald Trump, hugged Donald Trump, toasted Donald Trump, and now pretends like he hasn’t been friends with him for nearly three decades.”
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics on the University of Virginia, mentioned that the extra Trump backs Youngkin, the extra the Republican candidate’s group ought to be frightened.
“It’s all about Trump. He couldn’t care about Youngkin for Youngkin’s sake. He wants to associate himself with what he thinks will be a winner, but in fact he is making it less likely he will win,” mentioned Sabato. “(Youngkin) doesn’t need this unwanted help from Donald Trump. But he’s got it and it’s yet another albatross around his neck — with a Trump symbol.”
John Fredericks, a Virginia-based talk-radio host who chaired Trump’s presidential campaigns within the state, mentioned he believes Youngkin has carried out a very good job to this point of strolling the tough tightrope of operating as a Republican in a reasonably anti-Trump state.
“What he needs to do is hold the very motivated Trump base in Virginia together and inspire that enthusiasm while also attempting to distance himself from some of the Trump personality idiosyncrasies that turned off some of the Virginia big-market suburbanite women,” mentioned Fredericks. “That’s a tall order.”
Fredericks famous that Trump has a specific fondness for Virginia — the previous president owns each a golf membership and a vineyard within the state — that explains his outspokenness on the race.
“McAuliffe is going to run against Trump anyway,” Fredericks mentioned, “so there’s really no downside to the president saying nice things that are authentic about Glenn.”
CLARIFICATION: This article has been up to date to extra clearly mirror the senior McAuliffe aide’s ideas on Youngkin’s marketing campaign coping with Trump’s assertion in assist of their candidate.