‘We don’t need your vote’: Trump’s rally in Richmond concludes ahead of Super Tuesday without Gov. Youngkin

WTOP's Del Walters reports on former president Donald Trump's speech in Richmond, Virginia, ahead of Super Tuesday.

The leading Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump, finished his speech in Richmond, Virginia, Saturday night to rally voters ahead of the state’s primary election on Tuesday. Virginia’s top Republican leader, however, was not in attendance.

Here’s what we know about the rally and what political risk Trump’s speech could have for Gov. Glenn Youngkin during a tense election year.

Preparing for a primary

In a rally in Virginia at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Saturday night, current GOP frontrunner and former president Donald Trump asked visitors to get out and vote ahead of Super Tuesday to send a clear message.

“We win Virginia,” if voters come out, Trump asserted. “We win it 100%. It’s over — the election would be over.”

Trump also seemed to assert that Virginian votes wouldn’t matter this primary season.

“We want to send a big signal, so it’s important. I mean, we don’t need your vote. We want you to get out there and vote in big margins, and we want to send that little freight train going along,” Trump told rallygoers.

He also boasted about significant primary victories while continuing a thread of claims on voting, democracy and immigration.

“The biggest day in the history of our country is Nov. 5. That’s the biggest day because our country is being destroyed by an incompetent president, a corrupt president, the worst president we’ve ever had,” Trump said.

The four-time indicted former president took aim at White House incumbent Joe Biden, calling into question the validity of the 2020 election and questioning election integrity: “They go after the guys that complain about the election, not the guys who rig the election,” he said.

Trump also told Virginians that Democrats were encouraging a highly controversial “replacement theory” — waves of illegal immigrants that weaken the voting power of white people.

“We’ve got  15 — 16 million people came in. And they came in from prisons and jails. They came in from mental institutions and insane asylums. They’re terrorists, they’re drug dealers,” Trump told rallygoers.

Biden campaign spokesman Ammar Moussa decried the former president’s language in a statement.

“Once again Trump is projecting in an attempt to distract the American people from the fact he killed the fairest and toughest border security bill in decades because he believed it would help his campaign. Sad,” Moussa said.

Trump’s rally is just days ahead of Super Tuesday, when voters in 16 states, including Virginia, vote on a party nominee in the largest day of voting of the year. He has already seen a primary sweep including victories across Michigan’s GOP convention, Missouri and Idaho.

Rally proves politically tricky for Gov. Glenn Youngkin

According to a spokesperson, Gov. Glenn Youngkin wasn’t planning to attend the rally due to a previously scheduled family commitment.

The whole scenario presents a politically tricky situation for Youngkin, who has become a national figure over the last couple of years and is seen by many as a potential future candidate for the White House.

“Keep in mind that when Governor Youngkin was a candidate for governor, there was a determined effort — and a successful one — to prevent the two from occupying the same stage,” said Jeff Schapiro, a political columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Trump has historically been unpopular in Virginia, losing the state in the 2020 presidential race by 10%.

“Youngkin clearly appreciated the potentially destructive effects of the optics of video or still photography of the two standing together,” Schapiro said.

This time around, another sensitive political issue is being debated during the legislative session in Richmond. Youngkin is working to make deals with Democratic lawmakers regarding a proposed arena in Alexandria, among other things.

“What I think you see here in the governor’s apparent scheduling conflict is a chance to resist the opportunity to needlessly create a lot of unnecessary partisan static, particularly while in the thick of a legislative session,” Schapiro said.

“I think a hyperpartisan act could aggravate the Democrats who control the General Assembly.”

While Youngkin choosing to skip the rally may give him a level of political protection in Virginia, it also opens him up to potential public criticism by Trump on the national stage.

“Trump has made it very clear in some very pointed terms that he considers Youngkin unappreciative,” Schapiro said.

In 2021, Trump publicly called on Youngkin to “embrace the MAGA movement,” suggesting that Youngkin was damaging himself politically by keeping his distance when asked Trump-related questions.

Additionally, in 2022, Trump suggested that Youngkin was not adequately grateful, saying that Youngkin “couldn’t have won without me” in Virginia.

The Trump campaign released a statement Friday evening naming a list of more than 40 “Republican leaders across the Commonwealth of Virginia” who have announced their endorsement of Trump ahead of Tuesday’s primary election.

Included on the list were state and congressional lawmakers and even former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore.

Youngkin’s name, however, was nowhere to be found.

WTOP's Nick Iannelli explains how the rally in Richmond could prove to be politically tricky for Virginia's Republican governor.

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Ivy Lyons

Ivy Lyons is a digital journalist for WTOP.com. Since 2018, they have worked on Capitol Hill, at NBC News in Washington, and with WJLA in Washington.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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