Republicans successful Virginia are saying what their nominee for politician volition not: The governor’s contention is simply a proxy for Mr. Trump’s grievances.
Oct. 16, 2021, 2:00 p.m. ET
GLEN ALLEN, Va. — The lawsuit was billed arsenic a rally for Virginia conservatives up of adjacent month’s predetermination for governor. But it was mostly astir Donald J. Trump.
Each speaker, addressing the assemblage of hundreds conscionable extracurricular the authorities superior of Richmond, declared the erstwhile president the rightful victor of the past statesmanlike predetermination and the assumed victor of the adjacent one. The assemblage raved erstwhile Mr. Trump gave a abbreviated code implicit the phone.
But it was the talker aft Mr. Trump who made the pivot from nationalist to local. Amanda Chase, a authorities legislator from Amelia County who has called herself “Trump successful heels,” explicitly tied the erstwhile president to Glenn Youngkin, the state’s Republican nominee for governor. Supporting 1 required supporting the other, she said.
“People cognize I’m not politically close and I’ll accidental precisely what I’m thinking,” Ms. Chase said. “And if I’m telling you I’m supporting Glenn Youngkin, past you amended beryllium supporting Glenn Youngkin, due to the fact that he’s the existent deal.”
Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic campaigner and a erstwhile governor, has sought to necktie Mr. Youngkin to the erstwhile president, portion the Republican campaigner has mostly tried to support immoderate region from Mr. Trump, to debar alienating the all-important suburban, mean voters who could determine the race’s outcome. But astatine the grass-roots level, the messages from Virginia Democrats and Republicans are little distinct.
Democrats reason that losing the statewide predetermination connected Nov. 2 would beryllium a atrocious omen for them successful the 2022 midterms, and Republicans agree. And portion Democrats overgarment Mr. Youngkin arsenic an acolyte of Mr. Trump who would assistance pave the mode for the erstwhile president’s instrumentality successful 2024, Republicans astatine the “Take Back Virginia” rally connected Wednesday explicitly said the aforesaid thing. They were consenting to marque wide what Mr. Youngkin has cautiously avoided.
John Fredericks, a blimpish vigor big who organized the lawsuit and calls himself the “Godzilla of truth,” said the Virginia contention was the archetypal measurement successful clawing backmost the governmental powerfulness that Trump voters judge was stolen from them past year. He was 1 of respective speakers who encouraged the assemblage to go predetermination workers.
“Let’s triumph connected Nov. 2 and nonstop a connection to America that we person had enough,” Mr. Fredericks told the crowd. “You are the motor. You are the engine. You are the deplorables that, if we crook retired connected Nov. 2 and ballot aboriginal and beryllium a canvass watcher, you tin alteration the people of past successful America.”
The disconnect betwixt the governmental messages of Mr. Youngkin and his basal speaks to the cautious enactment that Republicans person been forced to walk. Although the erstwhile president’s support ratings with moderates and independents stay underwater, which helped President Biden triumph Virginia by 10 points past year, Mr. Trump is inactive the astir potent operator of enthusiasm and vigor among the party’s astir loyal voters. In an off-year predetermination wherever turnout is expected to beryllium importantly decreased from statesmanlike levels, courting that vigor is paramount for Virginia Republicans.
Mr. Youngkin did not be the lawsuit successful Glen Allen, but Ms. Chase spoke with the authorization of a run surrogate, saying, “I enactment precise intimately with the Youngkin campaign.” Mr. Trump, successful his telephone address, said, “I anticipation Glenn gets successful determination and straightens retired Virginia.” At the currency bar, wherever patrons ordered vino and cocktails implicit discussions of predetermination integrity, a postulation of reddish signs supporting the Youngkin run were disposable to instrumentality home.
But Mr. Youngkin came nether occurrence aft the Wednesday rally. At contented was a infinitesimal aboriginal successful the lawsuit erstwhile a talker had led the assemblage successful the Pledge of Allegiance utilizing a emblem that activists claimed was brought to the Capitol during the riot connected Jan. 6. Mr. McAuliffe attacked Mr. Youngkin implicit the usage of that emblem successful the pledge, and Mr. Youngkin distanced himself from the event.
“I wasn’t progressive and truthful I don’t know,” Mr. Youngkin told reporters, referring to the episode. “But if that is the case, past we shouldn’t pledge allegiance to that flag. And, oh, by the way, I’ve been truthful clear, determination is nary spot for unit — none, nary — successful America today.”
Trump supporters backing Mr. Youngkin person not been excessively troubled by specified disavowals.
Last month, Mr. Youngkin said helium would person voted to certify the 2020 predetermination results, aft antecedently refusing to reply the question. Mr. Youngkin’s run said astatine the clip that helium “has repeatedly said that Joe Biden was legitimately elected and that determination was nary important fraud successful Virginia’s 2020 election.”
There has been nary grounds of wide fraud successful the 2020 election, and aggregate authorities agencies and legislatures person repeatedly disproved Mr. Trump’s claims of a rigged election. However, astatine the event, attendees said successful interviews that they believed Mr. Youngkin stood with them successful their efforts to overturn the predetermination and to reason the Democratic agenda.
James Thornton, 47, said helium did not travel authorities earlier Mr. Trump’s predetermination and present attends schoolhouse committee meetings to protestation the mode helium said contention is taught successful schools. And Roxanne Joseph-Barber, 55, was passing retired petitions for a forensic audit of Virginia’s 2020 statesmanlike predetermination results.
Asked what was the astir important happening she wanted campaigns to cognize astir voters similar her, Ms. Joseph-Barber paused to cod herself.
“The predetermination wasn’t honest, and we cognize that,” she said. “So wherefore wouldn’t we beryllium mad? Of people we’re mad.”
Ms. Chase, who ran for politician against Mr. Youngkin earlier becoming a vocal protagonist of his campaign, made wide successful her code that she did not spot the 2020 predetermination results — and besides implied that Mr. Youngkin agreed with her.
She boasted astir traveling to Arizona, South Dakota and Texas to conscionable with different authorities legislators who were funny successful uncovering grounds that the predetermination was stolen. And she said that adjacent though Mr. Youngkin dismissed Mr. Trump’s claims of fraud during his debates with Mr. McAuliffe, voters should inactive spot that helium is connected their side.
“I cognize what’s going on, and the Youngkin run knows what’s going on,” Ms. Chase told the crowd. In the debates, she added, Mr. Youngkin could not springiness “the Democrats ammo to usage against us, to get the independents to spell with Terry McAuliffe.”
Peter Peterson, a seasoned successful his 60s, said that portion helium planned to ballot for Mr. Youngkin successful absorption to the Democratic agenda, helium had noticed Mr. Youngkin’s hesitancy connected what Mr. Peterson called his astir important issue: predetermination fraud.
“Everyone treats the voting worldly arsenic if it’s a 3rd rail,” Mr. Peterson said. “No 1 wants to travel retired and accidental the ballot was stolen.”
Mr. Peterson, who traveled astir 100 miles from Virginia Beach for the rally, said helium preferred a blunt-force governmental instrumentality specified arsenic Mr. Trump to candidates who present polished speeches. At the Glen Allen rally, polish was successful abbreviated supply.
Speakers seemed to one-up each different successful expressing their loyalty to Mr. Trump: Some called for the apprehension of Mr. Biden. Others compared vaccine mandates to conditions successful Nazi Germany oregon invoked convulsive periods successful American history, including the Civil War and the American Revolution, to picture the stakes of upcoming elections.
Jan Morgan, a right-wing commentator and long-shot Senate campaigner successful Arkansas who spoke astatine the event, said conservatives should spot themselves overmuch similar latter-day revolutionary soldiers.
“As acold arsenic I tin tell,” she said, “you inactive got your shoes. You’ve got your clothes, and I cognize you’ve got guns.”
The assemblage cheered successful response.