Across the political spectrum, condemnation of Lincoln Project ‘stunt’ in Charlottesville

Virginia News

The anti-Donald Trump group The Lincoln Project is taking credit for the group of five people who showed up at a Charlottesville campaign stop by Youngkin. The appearance recalled the torch-bearing white supremacists who descended on the city during two days of violence in 2017.
​(Elizabeth Holmes/NBC29 via AP)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WRIC) — White shirts, khaki pants and tiki torches — the five people standing near a campaign event for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Friday were decked out in the recognizable uniform of white supremacy.

However, they weren’t affiliated with any white supremacist organization.

They were sent to the rally by the Lincoln Project, a conservative political action committee (PAC) formed to oppose former president Donald Trump and support the campaign of President Joe Biden.

The purpose of the stunt, according to a press release from the PAC claiming responsibility, was to draw attention to “Glenn Youngkin’s continued failure to denounce Donald Trump’s ‘very fine people on both sides.'”

The statement references Trump’s equivocal statement on the white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville on Aug. 11 and 12, 2017 for the “Unite the Right” rally. That weekend, neo-Nazi James Fields drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring dozens.

The stunt on Friday, Oct. 29 drew condemnation from all corners of Virginia politics.

“I don’t care who claims responsibility for it,” said Youngkin in a statement. “It was done by the Democrats. And that is absolutely beyond the pale in Virginia.”

Youngkin also tied the stunt to the campaign of his Democratic opponent in the race for governor, Terry McAuliffe, saying it “sits at Terry’McAuliffe’s feet,” and that he had taken an “abhorrent” event and turned it into a “campaign stunt.”

In an email to WFXR’s sister station, Ryan Wiggins, communications director for the Lincoln Project, claimed that the PAC had “not coordinated with the [McAuliffe] campaign or the state party.”

While the Lincoln Project has spent nearly $300,000 on ads supporting McAuliffe’s campaign, VPAP reports that they haven’t made any direct contribution to McAuliffe. PACs are barred by law from coordinating independent expenditures with campaigns.

Chris Bolling, campaign manager for McAuliffe, called the event “distasteful and disgusting,” urging “those involved” to apologize.

On Twitter, a representative of the Virginia Democratic Party said the state party had played no role in the stunt.

Molly Conger, a community activist who documents white supremacist activity in and around Charlottesville, said the timing of the stunt was especially egregious, coming as the trial of the organizers of “Unite the Right” began just miles away.

Youngkin’s running mate, Winsome Sears, called the event ‘despicable.’

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