Ralph Northam Refuses to Condemn Ad Portraying Ed Gillespie as 'Genocidal' White Supremacist

Virginia governor candidate speaking with "Northam For Governor" signs in the background.

Virginia's Democratic governor candidate, Ralph Northam, linked Republican Ed Gillespie with the white nationalist rioters in Charlottesville, even though Gillespie condemned them early and often. Then an outside group attacked Gillespie, suggesting he wanted to kill minority children. Northam refused to condemn that ad on Wednesday, and documents suggest he may have had a hand in orchestrating it.

"That commercial did not come from our campaign, it's certainly not a commercial that I would have wanted to run," Northam, Virginia's sitting lieutenant governor, told WAVY 10 news in an interview on Wednesday. While the Democrat said he would not have run the ad, he did defend the people who launched it.

Gillespie "has run a campaign of negativity, of divisiveness ... and it's been very offensive to a lot of communities in Virginia and these communities have responded, and that's their right," Northam said.

The leftist group Latino Victory Fund (LVF) launched the ad in question on Saturday. The brief video depicted a group of minority children running from a pickup truck with an Ed Gillespie bumper sticker. As the truck closes in, clearly about to run over the kids, a voiceover asks, "Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by 'the American dream?'"

The closing shot reveals a man who looks like Gillespie watching footage of the riots in Charlottesville.

The editors at The Roanoke Times put it well: "The ad suggests that Gillespie supporters are racist vigilantes who want to run down minority kids." Just like Hillary Clinton's infamous "basket of deplorables" comment, the ad harshly condemned everyone who would support a Republican. "Umm, that's a lot of Virginians right there who are being called not just homicidal but genocidal."

Any candidate should forthrightly condemn such an ad. Instead, Northam equivocated, effectively saying, "I wouldn't run that ad, but Latinos are right to say their lives are in danger." Naturally, these "communities" have every "right" to "respond," but branding almost half of Virginia voters as genocidal racists is a bit more than a mere "response."

But it gets worse. Northam's campaign actually reported the ad to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as an "in-kind donation" from the LVF.

Phil Kerpen pointed out that under Virginia law, "to qualify as an in-kind contribution, the candidate or an agent of the candidate's campaign committee must have either expressly requested or suggested to the person or committee that the expenditure be made." Northam for Governor did officially accept the ad as an in-kind contribution.