Former President Donald Trump warned that Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin needs to play up his support if he wants to win in November.
Mr. Trump, who has endorsed Mr. Youngkin, said he believes the Republican could win against Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, but he can’t walk a fine line when it comes to embracing him and his movement.
“The only guys that win are the guys that embrace the MAGA movement,” Mr. Trump said Thursday on the John Fredericks Radio Show.
Mr. Trump, who lost Virginia by 10 points in 2020 to President Biden, claimed he would’ve won the state if it hadn’t been for shady election rules.
He also said candidates who try to tread both ways on embracing him but also acting as a moderate tend to lose elections.
“When they try to go down a railroad track, you know, ‘hey, oh yeah, sure, love it, love it. Oh yeah, love Trump. Love Trump. OK, let’s go, next subject.’ When they do that … they never win. They have to embrace it.”
Mr. Trump, however, said he believes Mr. Youngkin still has a chance at winning in November, adding that “he’s been very nice and all.”
Mr. Youngkin has not shied away from accepting Mr. Trump’s endorsements but has rarely touched on the former president when he has been out campaigning.
Mr. McAuliffe has also centered his campaign around tying Mr. Youngkin to the former president who remains unpopular in Virginia.
“Glenn Youngkin is not a reasonable Republican. He is a loyalist to Donald Trump,” Mr. McAuliffe said in a July ad.
Mr. McAuliffe, who served as the state’s governor from 2014 to 2018, also referred to his GOP opponent as an “acolyte of Donald Trump” at an August campaign rally he held with Mr. Biden.
While casting an early ballot on Thursday, Mr. Youngkin told reporters he had not spoken with the former president about campaigning for him in the next month.
“No, I haven’t,” Mr. Youngkin said in regards to the question. “The polls are showing that we’re up. We’ve got great momentum, and we’re going to run hard for the next six weeks. I think we’re going to win.”
Mr. Youngkin was up in a Wednesday poll by the University of Mary Washington, after months of slightly trailing behind Mr. McAuliffe.
The poll, conducted between Sept. 7-13, had Mr. Youngkin with 48% of support, compared to 43% for Mr. McAuliffe.
The poll was conducted among 1,000 Virginia residents and 528 likely voters and carried a margin of error of 4.1% among likely voters and 3.1% with registered voters.