Virginia Governor's Race: McAuliffe Ends Campaign by Inventing an Imaginary Youngkin-Trump Rally

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former governor Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign event at Caboose Commons in Fairfax, Va., November 1, 2021. (Elizabeth Frantz/Reuters)

On Monday night, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee to be the next governor of Virginia closed out his campaign in familiar ways: lying and invoking former president Donald Trump.

“Guess how [Republican nominee] Glenn Youngkin is finishing his campaign?” asked McAuliffe at his final rally of the cycle in Fairfax County, before answering falsely, “he is doing an event with Donald Trump here in Virginia.”

In fact, Youngkin was doing his own event in Loudoun County focused on the issues — education, taxes, government waste — rather than national politics or Trump: An event that Politico described as being attended by “a crowd several times the size of McAuliffe’s.” Youngkin and Trump have never campaigned together.

McAuliffe has been relentless in his effort to portray his opponent as a Trump acolyte, oftentimes pivoting from completely unrelated questions to compare Youngkin to the former president. At the rally on Monday night, McAuliffe repeated Trump’s name 13 times in a speech that lasted only 15 minutes.

The candidate has held fast to his strategy of talking mostly about his opponent’s similarities to Trump, even as his standing in the race dropped precipitously; Youngkin now holds lead in both the RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight polling averages.

President Joe Biden’s unpopularity — his approval rating is underwater in Virginia — and Youngkin’s manifest differences with Trump in both style and issue emphasis, have no doubt served to undermine the McAuliffe campaign’s strategy.

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