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 (@kerpen) November 2, 2017
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.
Northam has a point that Gillespie’s own ads have gone too far. The Republican candidate branded his opponent as giving unwitting support to the notorious gang MS-13, because he voted for sanctuary cities. On Wednesday, Northam said that he would sign a bill banning sanctuary cities if he were governor. Gillespie pointed out that his record suggests otherwise.
It is bad to smear your opponent as an unwitting supporter of MS-13. It’s an entirely different ballgame to refuse to condemn an ad portraying all of your opponent’s supporters as genocidal racists.
Perhaps Virginians should not be surprised, however. Northam’s campaign and the Virginia Democratic Party sent a mailer last month explicitly linking Gillespie and Trump to the Charlottesville riots.
Gillespie never supported the Charlottesville riots. In fact, he condemned them before the event was even over.
“Having a right to spew vile hate does not make it right,” Gillespie said in a response to the Charlottesville riots. “It is painful to see these ugly events in Charlottesville last night and today. These displays have no place in our Commonwealth, and the mentality on display is rejected by the decent, thoughtful, and compassionate fellow Virginians I see every day.”
Perhaps Northam would suggest the mailer was fair because Gillespie supports preserving Civil War monuments (and adding context to make it clear Virginia was “on the wrong side of history” at the time). According to a poll last week, 57 percent of Virginians support keeping the monuments. Does that mean a majority of Virginians are genocidal racists?
The Northam mailer and the LVF ad have pushed some people who would not normally vote Republican to support Gillespie. One Virginia libertarian — who did not vote for Donald Trump last year — told PJ Media, “Usually I would just vote Libertarian in the governor’s race, but with that ad I’m absolutely voting Gillespie.”
Virginians need to send Northam, the Democratic Party, and the Latino Victory Fund a message — this is beyond the pale. Whatever Northam’s qualifications, Virginians have a moral imperative to make him lose this race, and badly.
Click “Load More” to watch Northam’s disgusting equivocation on the Latino Victory Fund ad.