President Donald Trump on Thursday night tweeted his support of Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie.
Trump's tweet claimed that Gillespie's Democratic opponent, Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, is "fighting for the violent MS-13 gang," referencing a common attack against Northam used in Gillespie's campaign ads.
Northam responded in just over ten minutes, saying he was "expecting" it and using the president's tweet as a reason to request donations.
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) October 6, 2017
Democratic candidate Northam has shifted his tone on the president over the course of the race.
During the primary, he called President Trump a "narcissistic maniac" who should stay "on the other side of the Potomac."
In the past week, he said "If Donald Trump is helping Virginia, I'll work with him," after stating that, in his previous career as a doctor, "nobody ever asked if he is a Democrat or a Republican," the Washington Free Beacon reported. The Republican Governor's Association responded to this change.
"With just one month until Election Day, Virginia Democrat Ralph Northam has panicked and is now running away from his campaign’s central message of attacking President Donald Trump," wrote the RGA. "Unfortunately for Northam, Virginians won’t be fooled by his desperate, last-minute attempt to flip-flop on his campaign’s central message."
The president remains unpopular in Virginia where roughly 6 in 10 likely Virginia voters disapprove of his performance as president, and more than 8 in 10 Trump detractors support Democrat Northam, according to polling. In a positive sign for Gillespie, however, just over half of all likely voters say Trump is "not a factor in their choice," the Washington Post reported.