With only 19 days remaining before Election Day in Virginia, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said via Twitter last night, "Glenn Youngkin was endorsed again tonight by Donald Trump at a rally where attendees pledged allegiance to a flag flown at the deadly January 6th insurrection. Beyond disturbing, this is sick."
Part of me wondered whether the Democratic nominee was exaggerating. Evidently, he was not. The Washington Post reported this morning on the "Take Back Virginia Rally" event in Richmond last night intended to rally support for the GOP ticket in the commonwealth.
The event kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance — to a flag that was present "at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on Jan. 6," according to Martha Boneta, the Republican emcee of the event.
There's even video of the pledge, in which the flag from Jan. 6 was treated with special reverence.
The event did not improve as it progressed. While Glenn Youngkin, the GOP nominee, was not on hand for the Republican gathering, attendees heard from plenty of notable figures who are eager to help elect him governor — including Donald Trump, who appeared via telephone to cheer on Youngkin.
In his remarks, the former president proceeded to insist that he secretly won the 2020 race, reality be damned. Trump also speculated about possibly campaigning in person with Youngkin. "We'll have to do one together, where we're all live together," the former president said. "I sort of like that idea."
While Democrats would welcome this, Youngkin does not appear to like that idea at all: The GOP nominee has approached Trump with some caution — even while endorsing Trump-like election conspiracy theories — which makes sense given that the former president lost Virginia by nearly double digits last fall.
An Associated Press report added that other speakers at the event "included former Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon; Rep. Mark Finchem of Arizona, who has worked to overturn Trump's 2020 loss in the state; and Virginia state Sen. Amanda Chase, a prominent promoter of election fraud conspiracy theories. It was organized by conservative talk show host John Fredericks, a former Trump campaign chairman in Virginia."
Chase, a former Youngkin primary rival, was of particular interest because of the election message she's been pushing of late. The HuffPost reported yesterday:
Virginia GOP state Sen. Amanda Chase used a Tuesday radio interview to baselessly claim that Democrats are trying to "steal" the state's looming gubernatorial election.... "I know how they're stealing elections, and we're not gonna let that happen this year," Chase said of Democrats during a Tuesday interview, before launching into a series of absurd claims about next month's election.
In the same interview, Chase, a campaign surrogate whom Youngkin has campaigned with, added, "You may have to be unconventional in how you watch your registrar's office. We need fighters, we need election fighters, not just watchers."
What message are Virginia Republicans relying on to motivate voters in the race's closing weeks? The answer is hardly subtle.