Virginia GOP candidate walking 'MAGA tightrope' as run hampered by shadow of Trump: report

Glenn Youngkin, the Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, is flip-flopping across a "MAGA tightrope" as he tries to embrace the former president without alienating suburban voters critical to his statewide race against Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Bloomberg reports that Youngkin has positioned himself as a MAGA candidate, hiring pro-Trump economist Stephen Moore and saying the former president "represents so much of why I'm running." But when it comes to policy issues, he "appears to answer two ways."

After Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who isn't seeking re-election, announced last week that children attending school this fall would be require to wear masks, Youngkin came out against the move.

"The state was 'taking away parents' ability to decide what's best for our kids,' (Youngkin) said," according to Bloomberg. "When pressed, though, the campaign clarified that he wouldn't try to stop school districts from imposing mandates, as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott have done.It's a tightrope Youngkin has walked since winning the nomination in May."

Youngkin, a first-time candidate who is the former co-CEO of Carlyle Group, has also tried to play both sides when it comes to the "big lie" — Trump's false claims of widespread election fraud — which has become a litmus test for GOP candidates in other states. Youngkin campaigned heavily on "election integrity" during the GOP primary, but never explicitly endorsed Trump's big lie.

"After securing the nomination, Youngkin stated clearly for the first time that Biden won and shifted his campaign focus to jobs and education," Bloomberg reports.

However, Youngkin attended an "election integrity" rally at right-wing Liberty University earlier this month and, "When an audience member at a campaign event in late July brought up a debunked conspiracy theory that Trump could be reinstated as president, Youngkin didn't refute the idea, saying that he didn't know all the details, according to a recording of the event obtained by HuffPost."

"I don't know the particulars about how that can happen, because what's happening in the court system is moving slowly and it's unclear," Youngkin said.

Polls show McAuliffe leading the race by 5-8 points thanks to a nearly 2-1 advantage in the suburbs.

Early voting begins in mid-September, and Bloomberg notes that the race comes at "a tricky time for Democrats as it will be seen as a harbinger of their fate in the 2022 midterm congressional elections."

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