Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate in Virginia’s race for governor, has treaded lightly around the issue of former President Donald Trump over the course of his campaign, and he’s starting to get some public pressure from Trump to be more openly supportive.
In an interview with radio host John Fredericks on Thursday, Trump was asked whether he thought Youngkin, a political newcomer, could beat his Democratic opponent former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Trump responded by saying, “I do, but you know what I find? The only guys that win are the guys that embrace the MAGA movement,” referring to his Make America Great Again movement.
The former president went on to suggest that Youngkin should stop trying to play it down the middle.
“When they try to go down a railroad track, you know, ‘Hey, oh yeah, sure, love it, love it. Oh, yeah, love Trump. Love Trump. OK, let’s go, next subject.’ When they do that, they never win. They have to embrace it,” Trump said.
While Youngkin once said that “President Trump represents so much of why I’m running,” he has since carefully tiptoed around Trump-related questions.
In an interview with WTOP this week, Youngkin said of the Virginia gubernatorial election that “it’s certainly not about President Trump. There are two people on the ballot and that’s me and Terry McAuliffe.”
When asked if he would vote for Trump if he ran for president again, Youngkin responded by saying: “I don’t know if he’s going to run for president again.”
Youngkin has repeatedly said that President Joe Biden was legitimately elected, in contrast to Trump, who said the election was stolen.
Despite Trump’s nudging of Youngkin during the Thursday interview, he later sent an email to supporters saying that “Terry McAuliffe was a badly failed Governor” and including a link to a University of Mary Washington poll showing Youngkin leading.
It showed that, among likely voters, 48% favored Youngkin while 43% picked McAuliffe. Of registered voters, it was 46% for McAuliffe and 41% for Youngkin.
The poll included 1,000 Virginia residents, was conducted from Sept. 7-13 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.