NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — The anti-Donald Trump group The Lincoln Project took credit Friday for five people appearing with tiki torches at a Charlottesville campaign stop by Virginia’s GOP candidate for governor, a stunt recalling white supremacists who descended on that city amid violence in 2017.
Charlottesville TV station WVIR covered the campaign stop and reported candidate Glenn Youngkin was inside a restaurant when the group dressed in matching hats, khakis and white button-down shirts appeared beside his campaign bus. The former private equity executive and political newcomer is in a close race against former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe as Tuesday’s Election Day nears.
Photos showed the group holding large tiki torches. Their appearance recalled two days of chaos in August 2017, when white supremacists gathered in the college town for a “Unite the Right” rally ostensibly to protest the planned removal of a Confederate monument.
McAuliffe staffers promoted a reporter’s tweet about the group’s appearance, using it to attack Youngkin and suggesting that those holding the torches were his supporters. Youngkin staffers accused the McAuliffe campaign or Virginia Democrats of being involved, drawing disavowals.
“What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize,” McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Bolling said in a statement. The Democratic Party of Virginia issued a statement saying neither the party nor its “coordinated partners and affiliates” had anything to do with “the events” at the campaign bus stop.
The Lincoln Project then weighed in, saying it was behind what it called a “demonstration.”