Heading Into Final Debate, Gillespie Has Gone “Full-Trump”
Gillespie Running Divisive Negative Ads, Endorsed By Trump, Campaigning With Pence
WaPo Ed Board: “When it comes to putting his money where his mouth is, Mr. Gillespie is going full Trump.”
Heading into the final debate of the Virginia governor’s race, Ed Gillespie’s embrace of President Trump is complete.
In recent weeks, Gillespie has been running the Trump playbook to a T. He started airing racially divisive negative ads, failed to quickly condemn the white nationalists’ return to Charlottesville, and refused to stand up to Trump administration on health care proposals that threatened Virginians.
It’s a long way from 2006 Ed Gillespie, who wrote this in an op-ed criticizing the 2005 GOP candidate for governor, Jerry Kilgore, for running anti-immigration ads:
“Anti-immigration rhetoric is a political siren song, and Republicans must resist its lure by lashing ourselves to our party’s twin masts of freedom and growth–or our majority will crash on the shoals,” he concluded.
Here’s a roundup of the recent coverage about Gillespie’s embrace of Trump:
Mr. Gillespie’s aides high-mindedly insist that he is running on issues vital to Virginia — jobs, taxes, wages, schools — and bristle at suggestions that he is using divisive, Trump-style tactics. Yet when it comes to putting his money where his mouth is, Mr. Gillespie is going full Trump. He has rolled out four TV ads preposterously linking Mr. Northam with MS-13 and (nonexistent) sanctuary cities, at least one of which has run in the ultra-expensive Northern Virginia market.
Gillespie is increasingly leaning on culturally charged “Trumpist” issues, because he appears to have a “base problem.” Gillespie has been relentlessly attacking Northam as soft on illegal immigration and has said in the wake of Charlottesville white supremacist violence that Confederate statues should remain in place (echoing Trump), though with added historical context.
Richmond-area Latinos with ties to the immigrant community like Martinez, who is from Mexico, said TV and radio ads from GOP gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie are inaccurate and depict their communities in negative ways. They said they welcome candidates who want to work with the Latino community to combat the violent gangs, but said the advertisements don’t give that message.
But what about the other homage in Gillespie’s ad? In case you couldn’t hear it, it’s a dog whistle that echoes Donald Trump’s presidential campaign kick-off statement regarding illegal immigrants from Mexico and the troubles they bring to America:
President Donald Trump waded into the race for the first time Thursday night on Twitter with a message aimed squarely at the party’s conservative base. Trump tweeted: “Ralph Northam,who is running for Governor of Virginia,is fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities. Vote Ed Gillespie!” The President was parroting an attack that has played on repeat for weeks on Washington and Richmond TV stations. The ads have featured menacing-looking figures purported to be part of the MS-13 gangs and have prominently displayed the gang’s “Kill, Rape, Control” motto.
The need to consolidate conservative support also explains why the former chairman of the Republican National Committee has waded so aggressively into divisive culture wars and embraced wedge issues that he once eschewed, specifically immigration and Confederate monuments.