RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WRIC) – President Donald Trump is giving his strongest endorsement to date of Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia’s closely watched race for governor.
In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump said Gillespie would improve Virginia’s economy, be “strong on crime” and “might even save our great statues/heritage.”
Shortly after Trump’s tweets, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe responded to Trump’s claims about Virginia’s economy and called out the president for not making a campaign stop in Virginia in support of Gillespie.
Gillespie is a Washington insider who has largely kept the president at an arm’s distance so far, fearful of alienating Virginia’s moderate voters. When Trump endorsed Gillespie’s campaign on Twitter earlier this month, Gillespie downplayed it as a nonevent.
But Gillespie has tried to excite Trump’s supporters in Virginia with hard-edged attack ads that have accused Democratic opponent Ralph Northam of being “weak” on gang crime by immigrants living in the country illegally. Gillespie’s also highlighted Northam’s support for removing Virginia’s numerous Confederate monuments.