After skipping previous Trump rally in Virginia, Youngkin goes all-in

It will be a political first in Virginia on Friday as Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin heads to a rally to stand side-by-side with former President Donald Trump.

The two have never shared a stage before.

“Glenn Youngkin’s romance with Donald Trump has been on again, off again and on again,” said Jeff Schapiro, a political columnist with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

While Youngkin has never been an anti-Trump Republican, he has also never been publicly enthusiastic about fully backing Trump.

In 2021, the former president called on Youngkin to “embrace the MAGA movement,” suggesting that Youngkin was damaging himself politically by keeping his distance when asked Trump-related questions. Then, in 2022, Trump suggested that Youngkin was not adequately grateful, saying that Youngkin “couldn’t have won without me” in Virginia.

When Trump held a rally in Richmond earlier this year, Youngkin skipped it, citing a previously scheduled family commitment.

“Youngkin has very carefully threaded the Republican needle,” Schapiro said.

Now, however, it’s a different story.

Youngkin appears ready to go all-in as he heads to Chesapeake, Virginia, for the 3 p.m. Friday rally with the former president.

“This is all about affirming the governor’s bona fides as a loyal Republican,” said Schapiro. “Youngkin was clearly flirting with a national candidacy himself, and in the interest of future viability, he’s trying to be the good soldier.”

Trump has historically not done well in Virginia, losing by five points in 2016 and by 10 points in 2020.

The location of Friday’s rally is also strategic, according to Schapiro.

“Coastal Virginia is probably the most ‘swingy’ part of the state,” Schapiro said. “It is a district that was carried by Trump narrowly in 2016 and Trump narrowly lost it in 2020.”

Both Trump and Youngkin have claimed in recent weeks that Virginia is “in play” for this year’s presidential race, as polling has suggested that Trump is gaining momentum in the state.

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Nick Iannelli

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

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