Donald Trump has broken his relative silence regarding the Virginia gubernatorial race between Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
While McAuliffe has desperately tried to tie Youngkin to the former president in a state that went for Joe Biden by 10 points just a year ago, that’s been difficult. That task may have gotten just a bit easier as Trump appears to have acknowledged Biden’s goading last night for him to interject himself into the race.
In addition to firing up Democrats, President Biden seems to have another mission here tonight at this McAuliffe rally: Trying to goad Donald Trump to weigh in on the race in the final week. "Is there a problem with Trump being here? Is he embarrassed?" Biden said of Youngkin.
— Jeff Zeleny (@jeffzeleny) October 27, 2021
Here’s the somewhat cryptic response, which states that Trump is going to visit Arlington, a heavily blue area that does not, in fact, love the former president.
Is Donald Trump headed to Virginia?
He just put out this statement saying, "Thank you, Arlington, see you soon!" pic.twitter.com/I268PVlqux
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 27, 2021
McAuliffe responded with sheer excitement at what he sees as a turn of fortune given his entire campaign has centered on repeating the word “Trump” over and over.
Donald Trump is coming to Virginia to campaign for his handpicked guy Glenn Youngkin. Enough of this MAGA nonsense. We will defeat Trump once again this November!
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) October 27, 2021
That led to panic among some Republicans, who took to social media to proclaim McAuliffe the certain winner based on the idea that Trump is that much of an albatross. I personally think that’s a bit much, and I’ll explain why.
First, is it smart for Trump to get involved this late in the game just as Youngkin has pulled into a dead heat without any controversy? No, it’s probably not a great strategic move if he comes to Virginia pre-election. There are certain areas Trump plays well in across the country. Arlington is not one of them. The moderate to left-leaning suburbanites in NOVA largely can’t stand him, and that’s a key demographic Youngkin is looking to make headway with. It also comes across as weak that Trump is being led around by what Biden says. But that’s always been who the former president is. He’s going to respond to a slight, for better or worse.
Still, I think there’s no reason to freak out. With early voting, most Democrats have likely already cast their ballots. Trump giving a wink and a nod to his supporters in rural Virginia, most of whom won’t vote until election day, that it’s time to turn out could actually help Youngkin on the margins. Further, a lot of the “Youngkin = Trump” stuff is already baked into the cake of the campaign. McAuliffe has been singing that tune for months and no one is buying it. Youngkin is his own man, and he comes across that way. That’s not going to change because of a one-line statement from the former president.
Lastly, I’m not even sure Trump will actually show up pre-election. It’s too late for a rally to take place prior to the weekend, and he’ll be in Atlanta for the World Series on Saturday. That makes it unlikely any big event takes place before Tuesday’s vote. Thus, the risk of him saying something completely off the wall that galvanizes support for McAuliffe is only slight.
In other words, I think Republicans should just stay on offense. Don’t worry about what Trump does or doesn’t do, and turn whatever it may be into a positive. Project confidence, knock doors, get out the vote, and try to put this race in the win column. There’s no use fretting about what you can’t control, and Trump will not be controlled. That’s just life as a Republican right now, whether you like the guy or not.