RENO, Nev. – Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin took his I’m-not-really-thinking-about-running-for-president tour Thursday to one of many key states for early voting contests within the 2024 Republican presidential nominating course of, with a pair of marketing campaign stops for Nevada’s Republican nominee for governor.
“Virginians had a chance to make a statement last year, and we did. Now, it’s your chance,” Youngkin informed a crowd of about 150 gathered on the Nevada Trucking Association’s headquarters in a high-ceiling storage decked out with a large U.S. flag behind the stage. “The headwaters of a red wave that we started in Virginia can spread across the entire country.”
Earlier within the day, he had spoken to about 300 supporters of Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo at Liberty Baptist. The church is known for its anti-gay and no exceptions anti-abortion stance and is situated in a working-class neighborhood of stucco condominium complexes and purchasing facilities a couple of miles north of the Las Vegas Strip.
Neither of these subjects got here up, although, in both Lombardo’s or Youngkin’s remarks. Instead, the main target was on the supposed failure of Democratic governors across the nation, present Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak amongst them, of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Youngkin spent an excellent portion of his speech portray a grim image of Virginia throughout 2021, with faculties nonetheless not reopened and plenty of companies both shut down or working at lowered capacities due to “progressive, liberal” leaders, he claimed.
“Does that sound familiar, Nevada?” Youngkin mentioned.
That, plus rising violent crime charges and Democrats’ efforts to show “critical race theory” within the public faculties led to Virginians coming collectively to elect him to the governor, Youngkin informed the group.
“These are not Republican values. These are American values we’re talking about,” he added.
Lombardo, who in keeping with latest polling is just about tied with Sisolak, mentioned he was grateful for Youngkin’s go to, which included a Lake Tahoe fundraiser sandwiched between the 2 public occasions.
“I believe in his foundation, his platform, and what he’s trying to achieve in Virginia is synonymous, is exactly what I’m trying to achieve in the state of Nevada,” Lombardo mentioned. “And that’s why he’s standing here today.”
Political unknown to presidential materials
Youngkin spent the majority of his grownup life with the Carlyle Group non-public fairness agency, co-running it his final three years and amassing a nine-figure personal fortune. He determined to depart the agency in 2020 to enter politics.
Many Republicans felt that statewide places of work there have been out of attain for his or her get together. Virginia had been trending towards Democratic lately capped off with a double-digit victory by Joe Biden over then-President Donald Trump within the 2020 presidential election.
But Youngkin centered on parental anger over lasting pandemic-related college closures within the Democratic suburbs of Washington, D.C. He appealed to pro-Trump Republicans by promising to finish “critical race theory” in faculties, which many Trump supporters took as a pledge to deemphasize the instructing of slavery and segregation.
As necessary within the populous northern Virginia suburbs, although, was Youngkin’s refusal to unfold lies in regards to the 2020 election having been “stolen” from Trump. Youngkin typically averted speaking about Trump in any respect. While at one level Trump promised to marketing campaign for Youngkin earlier than the election, in the long run, he stayed out of the state.
On Election Day, the Trump distancing appeared to have labored. Northern Virginia neighborhoods the place Trump had no seen help in 2020 sprouted purple with “Youngkin for governor” indicators only a year later. He additionally benefited from record-high turnout in rural Virginia counties the place aggrieved Trump supporters remained indignant in regards to the 2020 election consequence.
The web consequence: Youngkin managed to eke out a 2-point win statewide, which immediately made him a star amongst Republican consultants and donors nationally.
Youngkin, who took office in January, initially answered hypothesis a few potential 2024 presidential run by saying he was centered solely on Virginia. That answer started evolving inside a couple of months, till by June, when he visited New York City to satisfy with main Republican donors. He had already begun saying he was “humbled” by the question and that he had not made any choices but.
“We’ll see what comes next,” he told Fox News on June 27.
Days later, Youngkin visited Nebraska on July 9 to help Republican candidates. He visited Michigan on Aug. 27 to spice up GOP nominee Tudor Dixon in her problem to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. And earlier this month, he was in Maine for a fundraiser for Paul LePage, the previous Republican governor who’s now making an attempt to return to that job.
Still to return for Youngkin are journeys to Georgia, Kansas and New Mexico to assist Republican gubernatorial candidates in these states, as effectively, with visits to Colorado, Oregon and Wisconsin additionally attainable.
On Thursday, he laughed off a question about his go to to an early 2024 state. “You’re very kind,” he mentioned. “This is my most important visit to Nevada to support Joe Lombardo. And I think this is what Republican governors did for me last year.”
While some Republicans, together with Maryland Gov Larry Hogan, have made some extent to not assist candidates who’ve unfold Trump’s lies in regards to the 2020 election having been “stolen” from him, Youngkin has not.
Dixon in Michigan, for instance, often pushed Trump’s lies throughout her main election marketing campaign, whereas LePage has by no means stopped spreading them. Youngkin can be open to a visit to Arizona to assist Kari Lake, the GOP candidate for governor who’s among the many most prolific spreaders of Trump’s elections falsehoods amongst present GOP office-seekers.
While Youngkin throughout his marketing campaign for the nomination didn’t declare that the election had been stolen from Trump, he did denounce it as a lie. It wasn’t till one of many televised debates with Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe that Youngkin lastly mentioned that Biden had been legitimately elected in 2020.
Today, Youngkin prefers to keep away from the difficulty totally. In a July look on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” he was requested 3 times whether or not Trump ought to cease mendacity in regards to the election. And 3 times he modified the topic and wouldn’t answer.
“I think what I did last year was I focused on 2021. And we had 5,000 people come and volunteer at elections and that gave everybody confidence in our election process,” he mentioned, referring to ballot watchers his marketing campaign recruited. “They showed up, they voted in record numbers for a governor’s race, and we won.”
On Thursday, Youngkin declined to touch upon candidates who proceed to push Trump’s lies. Instead, he provided the usual answer many mainstream Republicans have settled upon. “We have to look forward. That’s what we have to do as Republicans. The reality of course is that we have to work to make people feel more confident about the election process,” he mentioned.
Helping his model whereas serving to others
Lombardo on the Las Vegas and Reno appearances thanked Youngkin for his help within the coming election. But the truth might be the other. Youngkin stays largely unknown among the many voting public nationally, and his go to will seemingly assist him lay the groundwork for a 2024 presidential run excess of it can assist Lombardo six weeks from now.
“I’ve heard of him,” mentioned Randall Carney, 68, a ministry scholar and Lombardo supporter purchasing at a Walmart grocery retailer lower than a mile from Liberty Baptist. Carney had not heard in regards to the marketing campaign occasion on the eve of Youngkin’s go to. However, he additionally appeared unclear about who he was, asking, “His last name is Young?”
David Barron, 67 and a retired autoworker from Pennsylvania who now works part-time at Walmart mentioned he was conscious of Youngkin’s win in Virginia. “I know he ran on that critical race theory stuff, whatever that is,” he mentioned throughout a cigarette break.
Jean Adams, who’s 70 and mentioned she remembers watching the Kennedy-Nixon debate on tv as a toddler, mentioned she is aware of all about Youngkin. “He’s got a future,” she mentioned.
As as to whether his journey would matter in November is one other matter. “I don’t know if that many people are paying attention,” Adams mentioned.
At least one particular person, nonetheless, does seem like paying shut consideration to Youngkin and his newfound attraction: Trump.
On Sept. 6, days after a clip of Youngkin awkwardly dancing to Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” in his purple vest at Dixon’s rally made the rounds on social media, Trump tried to take credit score for Youngkin’s 2021 victory on his Truth Social website online.
“Helped him get elected – big time,” Trump wrote. “Press refused to acknowledge, but that’s OK – the people know!”