Virginia Dems Attempt to Link Gillespie, Trump to Hate of White Nationalists in Charlottesville

Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam holds a thumbs up during a campaign event at the Greater Richmond Convention Center October 19, 2017 in Richmond, Virginia. Northam is running against Republican Ed Gillespie to be the next governor of Virginia. / Getty Images
Getty Images
October 25, 2017

Virginia Democrats on Tuesday released a new mailer ad attempting to link Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie and President Donald Trump to multiple white nationalist rallies that have been held in Charlottesville, Va. in recent months.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's campaign has castigated Gillespie in the weeks leading up to election day for his ads painting Northam as soft on the MS-13 street gang and sex offenders. Now, Northam is taking his response a step further. The Democratic campaign's latest mailer ad includes images of Trump and Gillespie superimposed above a photo of white nationalists holding tiki torches with the caption, "On Tuesday, November 7th, Virginia gets to stand up... to hate," the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The back of the mailer includes a photo of the entire Democratic ticket, made up of gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam, lieutenant governor nominee Justin Fairfax and incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring. It repeats the message that on election day, voters can "stand up to Trump, Gillespie and hate."

Gillespie's campaign manager Chris Leavitt slammed Virginia's Democratic ticket in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon.

"The tragic events in Charlottesville shook our entire state. Virginia was invaded by white supremacists and Neonazis and Virginians rallied together against their hate. To now see Ralph Northam and the Democratic ticket exploit imagery from that tragic weekend to try to score political points is both outrageous and beneath the dignity of the offices they seek, " Leavitt said. "At a minimum Ralph Northam and the Democratic Party of Virginia must immediately repudiate this mail and cease using it. And they should vocally condemn it as well. This is an ugly political attack that has no place in our Commonwealth’s political discourse. Ralph Northam should be ashamed to have approved such a hateful mail piece."

A member of Gillespie's campaign, Eric Wilson, shared a picture of the mailer on Twitter and commented that Northam's campaign had reached a "new  low."

Gillespie, a former chairman to the Republican National Committee and Northern Virginia political strategist, was quick to denounce the violence and white nationalist display in Charlottesville after one person was killed and multiple people were injured when a protest turned violent in August. He called the displays "evil" and said they "have no place" in Virginia. Democrats, however, didn't think he went far enough in his condemnation because he didn't speak out against Trump's statement condemning violence on "many sides."

"For 73 days, Ed Gillespie has refused to call out Donald Trump’s response to Charlottesville for what it was: disheartening and wrong," Northam spokesman David Turner said. "When the Charlottesville community wanted leadership to help them heal, he failed. Ed Gillespie should be willing to call out Donald Trump when he’s wrong and because he won’t, he gives voters a clear choice on Nov. 7."

The mailer ad was approved by all three Democratic campaigns on the ticket and was funded by the Democratic Party of Virginia.