An aide for Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Friday appeared to accuse Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe’s team of dressing Youngkin supporters up as tiki torch-carrying white nationalists in a bid to link him to racism.
“Terry McAuliffe’s campaign has been the dirtiest, nastiest, most dishonest campaign in Virginia history. This morning they’re closing out his career by going even lower,” Youngkin campaign communications director Matt Wolking said in a tweet.
His heated comments came after apparently false allegations emerged on Twitter that a local group of Democrats had posed as white supremacists next to a Youngkin campaign bus Friday while holding tiki torches — a nod to the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville in 2017.
“We’re all in for Glenn,” members of the group said, according to an NBC 29 reporter.
A rep for McAuliffe quickly denied staging the racially charged hoax while accusing Youngkin of having white nationalist ties — just days before voters in the state go to the polls.
“This was not us or anyone affiliated with our campaign,” McAuliffe spokesman Renzo Olivari responded in a tweet. “There is one candidate in this race who has embraced white nationalists — and his name is Glenn Youngkin.”
They said the campaign had not identified anyone involved in the stunt, which the political action committee The Lincoln Project later claimed responsibility for it.
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginia voters of what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the Lincoln Project said in a statement.
The anti-Trump group slammed Youngkin for refusing to denounce the former president’s statement that there were “very file people on both sides” of the rally in Charolettesville, where one person died 35 were injured.
“Glenn Youngkin wants Virginians to forget that he is Donald Trump’s candidate,” the Lincoln Project statement declares.
In August 2017, Jason Kessler, an organizer of the “Unite the Right” rally, carried a Tiki torch while marching on the grounds of University of Virginia.