- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 16, 2021

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe painted his Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin as a “wannabe” of Donald Trump, continuing his efforts to tie Mr. Youngkin to the former president.

Mr. McAuliffe was posed a question on Thursday during a debate against Mr. Youngkin on why he has invoked Mr. Trump in many of his ads, rather than focusing on his own proposals.

“Because my opponent is a Trump wannabe,” Mr. McAuliffe said. “He‘s been endorsed by Donald Trump three times. He said ‘I’m honored to have his endorsement.’ He‘s quoted saying ‘so much of the reason why I’m running is because of Donald Trump.’ That’s his quote, so he‘s the one who’s inserted Donald Trump here.”

Mr. McAuliffe also accused his opponent of mirroring Mr. Trump’s policies and specifically mentioned hiring ex-Trump adviser Stephen Moore to be his economic adviser.

Mr. McAuliffe, who served as governor between 2014 and 2018, has issued several ads that compare Mr. Youngkin to Mr. Trump. He made a point to zero-in on the comparison at a July rally he held with President Biden, who said Mr. McAuliffe was running against Mr. Trump.

The attacks coincide with Mr. Trump‘s poor performance in Democratic-trending Virginia in 2016 and 2020.

In 2016, he lost to Democrat Hillary Clinton by roughly 6 percentage points and lost by 10 points to Mr. Biden in 2020.

The Virginia race is tight, with polls showing Mr. McAuliffe slightly leading Mr. Youngkin. An 8News/Emerson College poll that came out Thursday ahead of the debate showed Mr. McAuliffe had 49% support compared to Mr. Youngkin’s 45%.

The poll surveyed 778 likely voters between Sept. 13-14 and had an error margin of 3.4 percentage points.

Virginia law bars governors from serving consecutive terms, but not non-consecutive ones.

Election Day is Nov. 2, but early voting begins Friday.

• Mica Soellner can be reached at msoellner@washingtontimes.com.

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