The Lincoln project has confirmed that it was behind a political stunt in which five members posed as white supremacists carrying tiki torches at a campaign stop for Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, in Charlottesville ahead of election day next week.
Members of the anti-Trump Republican group stood in front of Youngkin’s campaign bus on Friday wearing white shirts, khaki pants and sunglasses.
They tried to provoke a notorious right-wing extremist torchlight march at the University of Virginia in August 2017, a day before a self-proclaimed neo-Nazi killed a counter-protester with his car. When the Lincoln project kicked off the stunt, jurors in a civil lawsuit over the convention began hearing testimony.
Days before election day, in a state where Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by 10 points last year, McAuliffe and Youngkin are neck-and-neck.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, former President Barack Obama and other senior Democrats have turned up for McAuliffe, for fear of defeat may warn converts in next year’s midterm elections.
In comments to NBC29 after the incident, but before the Lincoln project took responsibility, Youngkin said he believed his opponent, Terry McAuliffe, a former Virginia governor seeking to return to the role, had sent the men.
“They will do anything to win,” he said, “and he does everything to win, and therefore he pays people to show up and behave silly at our rallies.”
McAuliffe rejected the actions of the Lincoln project.
“What happened today in Charlottesville is disgusting and distasteful, and the McAuliffe campaign strongly condemns it,” the Democrat campaign leader said in a statement. tweet. “Those involved should immediately apologize.”
The Lincoln Project said: “The demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians of what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkins’ lack of condemnation of it.”
The group also said it meant highlighting Trump’s famous refusal to condemn the right-wing extremist marchers in 2017, including his remark that there were “very nice people” on “both sides” of the demonstration.
Youngkin, the group said, wanted “virgins to forget that he is Donald Trump’s candidate.
“Glenn Youngkin has said, ‘President Trump represents so much of why I stand up.’ Youngkin proves it every day by trying to divide the people of Virginia by using racial slurs as ‘critical race theory’ and supporting a ban on teaching works by America’s only black Nobel laureate, “it said.
It was a reference to attempts involving Republican agents to remove Beloved, Toni Morrison’s classic novel about slavery in the American South, from Virginia schools.
“We will continue to hold Glenn Youngkin accountable,” the Lincoln project said. “If he wants to condemn Trump’s claim that the Charlottesville troublemakers possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we will withdraw the tiki torches. Until then, we are back.”
Progressive commentators condemned a stunt by an activist, Elizabeth McLaughlin, called “disrespectful, dangerous and stupid”.
“No one who actually understands what’s at stake in Virginia,” McLaughlin added on Twitter, “let alone the threat of white supremacy terrorism and the ACTUAL death and destruction in Charlottesville, could do this.”
Consultants for the Lincoln project were among those who defended its actions. Lauren Windsor, an activist who has used a hidden camera to capture senior Republicans expressing controversial opinions and who was involved in the Charlottesville stunt, retweeted a message from Joe Trippi.
“That’s why I joined the Lincoln project,” the experienced Democratic agent said wrote. “Trump Republicans go low … [the Lincoln Project] will go where the Democrats do not want, and risk it all to … expose Youngkin and his wink and nod. “