‘He’s not coming’ in person: Trump plans last minute tele-rally for Virginia’s Youngkin

Former President Donald Trump is stepping back into the hotly contested Virginia governor’s race with a tele-rally planned Monday for Republican Glenn Youngkin, according to a person familiar with his plans.

Trump will not be appearing with Youngkin. The call-in event will take place the day before an election in which Youngkin appears to be running neck-and-neck with Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who has tried throughout the race to tie his opponent to the former president.

Trump hinted that he was headed to Virginia to campaign for Youngkin, but the candidate didn’t think so.

“He’s not coming,” Youngkin said. “And in fact, we’re campaigning as Virginians in Virginia with Virginians. And we’ve got another four days left on our bus tour and then we’ve gotta fly around and then we’ve gotta vote.”

Trump’s spokesman said on Wednesday that the former president “looks forward to being back in Virginia!,” adding that “details will be released when appropriate,” but no event was announced.

Granted, reading the metaphorical fine print, none of that actually constitutes a promise of a campaign visit. Regardless, Youngkin was unequivocal on Thursday, when he said the former president was not coming.

The person who discussed Trump’s plans spoke on condition of anonymity before the event was announced.

Throughout the campaign, Youngkin has played a delicate dance, trying to win over Trump’s loyal base, which he needs to win the election, while at the same time avoiding more extreme positions that might turn off more moderate voters, particularly those in suburban Washington and Richmond. Such moderates turned against Trump and helped deliver President Joe Biden’s victory.

Trump lost the state by 10 points in 2020.

The last time Trump waded into the race — calling into a rally organized by his conservative allies — McAuliffe’s campaign quickly made ads featuring Trump’s praise of the Republican, even though Youngkin hadn’t attended the event.

On Wednesday night, Trump issued a cryptic statement suggesting he might make a last-minute, first appearance in Virginia before the election, though officials in the state said nothing was planned.

“Thank you, Arlington, see you soon!” he wrote after supporters briefly interrupted a Biden rally for McAuliffe.

Biden at that rally had goaded Trump over his absence from the state.

“Think about it: He won’t allow Donald Trump to campaign for him in this state,” Biden said of Youngkin. “Is there a problem with Trump being here? Is he embarrassed?”

Youngkin has largely campaigned without big Republican names while McAuliffe has appeared with the biggest names in Democratic politics, like Biden and former President Barack Obama, as well as celebrities such as musician Dave Matthews.

Democrats immediately criticized Youngkin for Trump’s involvement.

Susan Swecker, chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, called on Youngkin to tell voters immediately whether he plans to take part in the event, which she said shows the two “can’t stay away from each other.”

“Donald Trump is on the ballot, make no mistake about it,” she said. “His name may not be on the ballot, but he is on the ballot.”

McAuliffe also tweeted about the news, saying, “Virginians, let’s come together to REJECT Trump and send a powerful message to the nation: we are not going back.”

Bloomberg News was first to report that the event had been confirmed.

Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin contributed to this report from Richmond, Virginia.

WTOP’s Rick Massimo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow @WTOP on Twitter to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2021 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up