Republican Glenn Youngkin is currently campaigning alongside... Glenn Youngkin.
A newcomer to the GOP, the candidate has shocked his party with his strong bid for blue Virginia. He has avoided all public campaign visits by well-known party ties, who often flock to hot races to lend their support. Youngkin has hosted many high-profile Republicans in the state for closed-door fundraisers. However, the Youngkin campaign has an unofficial policy that they cannot campaign alongside him.
His team has decided to leave the group to focus on national issues and keep his supporters focused on state issues. It's also an acknowledgement that Youngkin's efforts to keep his party and former President Donald Trump at arm's reach would be undermined by a parade.
"Glenn, while he is outsider, is a businessman. Devin O'Malley, Youngkin's spokesperson, spoke about the approach.
Trump lost Virginia by 10 points in 2020. It has been difficult to stay away from him. He made a vague statement Wednesday suggesting that he may make a surprise, last-minute appearance in the state.
According to a source familiar with his plans, he will instead hold a last-minute rally tele-rally on Monday, the day before the election.
Trump made the announcement on the same day that Mike Pence, his former vice president and far less polarizing figure, visited a small Christian college near Virginia for a speech about education. Youngkin didn't join him, and Pence didn't mention the candidate's name even though he repeated the same message about parental rights in schools as Youngkin in the final days of the campaign.
"The Youngkin strategy is smart, I believe. He is focused intensely upon state and local issues and taking that directly to voters at the suburbs and exurbs, where the election will decide," stated Mark J. Rozell (founding Dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government, George Mason University in Fairfax).
He said that Youngkin does not have a national figure from the Republican party who could help him. Youngkin does not want Trump to come to Youngkin. He cannot say it openly, as he doesn’t want to offend the Trump loyal voters who are now all in for Youngkin.
McAuliffe's campaign quickly cut ads that featured Trump's praise for the Republican even though Youngkin had not attended the event. Trump entered the race last time he called into a rally hosted by conservative allies. In an effort to discredit more moderate voters, the Democrats have repeatedly highlighted Youngkin’s connections to Trump. This was especially true for those living in the suburbs around Washington, D.C. and Richmond that revolted against Trump during his last years in office and contributed to Biden's win.
Youngkin's campaign has been a delicate dance to win Trump's support base. He needs them to vote for him. However, he strikes a soft, more approachable tone.
Trump's "no surrogates at events" policy was a way to avoid being criticized by the ex-president, who is known for taking slights very personally.
The tour would highlight the contrast between grassroots enthusiasm for Glenn Youngkin’s candidacy and Terry McAuliffe’s dependence on Democrats such as Joe Biden, Kamala Hariri, and Stacey Abrams to draw a crowd.
McAuliffe responded to Youngkin's request by saying that Youngkin had no choice.
Christina Freundlich, McAuliffe's campaign spokeswoman, stated that Virginia is in a difficult position and can't accept many Republican Party members because Donald Trump leads them. Their party is too divisive.
Campaign officials stated that Youngkin was able to draw his own crowds, without the need for surrogates or people who could cause trouble. There was little interest from outsiders in the initial days of the race. They could also highlight Youngkin's status as a businessman, political novice, and concentrate on issues such as education that they felt would resonate with state voters.
The campaign has not completely rejected the outreach. Instead, it funneled the support to closed-door fundraisers, which featured a wide range of potential 2024 candidates, including Pence, former Secretary General Mike Pompeo, and former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Maryland Governor, Larry Hogan, and Sens. Cruz and Tom Cotton are joined by Bill Barr, an ex-House Speaker, and Tom Cotton.
It seems to be paying off.
Sandy Corbitt (61), a teacher, attended Pence's speech in Loudoun County on Thursday. This area has been a hotbed of parental activist groups. She said that Youngkin can win if they promote parental freedom without the help of national Republicans. Corbitt stated that she hadn't heard much about Youngkin, but likes what she hears.
She said that Obama and McAuliffe were top Democrats who had asked for help. "So, he cannot make it all on his own."
Allies expect Trump to travel to the state to claim credit if Youngkin wins.
He'll be thrilled to visit Virginia, I think. He loves Virginia and believes that the state can be better than it has been in the past. Trump's former campaign chair, John Fredericks of conservative talk shows in the state said that he is sure to be celebrating.