Former President Donald Trump made a brief appearance Monday night in Glenn Youngkin’s campaign as governor of Virginia, telling voters that the Republican is a “great guy” who will “do a job no one can do.”
The comments did not come during a long and twisted speech at a meeting like the ones Trump typically holds to promote himself and other GOP candidates, but rather in an 11-minute phone call.
Youngkin, who has not campaigned alongside Trump in a state that President Joe Biden won by a wide margin in 2020, faces Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the former Commonwealth governor seeking to return to office, in Tuesday’s election. The former private equity director did not attend Monday’s call, billed as a “tele-rally.” But Trump spoke as if he and Youngkin were longtime friends.
“I got to know him so well, and our relationship is great,” Trump told listeners. “The fake news media want to say something else, because they want our big, huge, beautiful base, which has never been there before, not to vote as much as they want. We have a great relationship, and he is a great guy. “
McAuliffe and his Democratic allies have spent months tying Youngkin to Trump, and although they share views on politics and some cultural issues, Youngkin has kept the former president at a cautious distance. Virginia’s race for governor – routinely held the year after a presidential election – is always closely monitored and considered a warning of the following year’s midterm elections.
Trump teased a possible appearance in Virginia before the election last week, but settled for the virtual event. A spokesman did not answer a question about how many people called the call.
After a brief introduction by Mercedes Schlapp, a Virginia resident who served in Trump’s White House as director of strategic communications, the former president spoke for about six minutes.
“Glenn Youngkin is a Republican candidate,” Trump said at one point. “And you have so many other amazing people running, but he’s your leader. He’s your great Republican leader in Virginia, and they want to listen to him, and they want to respect him, and you want to see things happen in Richmond. as you would not have thought, especially in terms of taxes and your children’s education. “
At another point, Trump returned to a claim he made repeatedly in his losing re-election: that Democrats want to “abolish the suburbs,” a phrase that repeats segregationist rhetoric.
“Terry McAuliffe, as you know, he has embraced the far left’s plan to abolish, and he will literally abolish the suburbs as you know them today,” Trump said. “I fought very hard to help the suburbs and did really well in that regard, but they want to build and make things … They want to ban the subdivision of single-family houses and turn beautiful residential areas into apartment towers. That’s the wrong thing to do. to change your suburbs forever. “
Trump also hit on “critical race theory,” a phrase Youngkin and other Republicans have grasped while protesting what they see as anti-white curricula in public schools. Youngkin has attacked McAuliffe for vetoing bills during his previous tenure as governor that would have allowed parents to opt out of their children’s lessons involving books considered sexually explicit. The book at the heart of that debate was “Beloved,” Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the horrors of slavery.
“He actually said, ‘I do not think parents should tell schools what to teach,'” Trump said, modifying a bit of a McAuliffe debate response that Youngkin has been hammering at him over the last few weeks of the race. “Well, that means all the school boards that are instilled and installed are listening to a lot of angry parents. And we don’t want that. We want there to be harmony and peace.”
McAuliffe, whose team has counted the number of times Trump has supported Youngkin in public comments, used Trump’s involvement in the last days of the campaign to bolster his main attack.
“Glenn Youngkins’ campaign will close today, just as it started: with Donald Trump,” McAuliffe said in a statement earlier Monday. “The one thing Glenn has been at the forefront of the Virginians is about his total fidelity and full embrace of Donald Trump’s agenda and dangerous lies.”