On Wednesday, Virginia’s Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe defended a Democratic Party mailer branding President Donald Trump and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie as white nationalists. The mailer pictured Trump and Gillespie with the torch-bearing protesters in Charlottesville, with the caption, “On Tuesday, November 7th, Virginia gets to stand up … to hate.”
“I think the hatred and bigotry that we saw … the hatred, the white supremacy, the KKK, the alt-right is the same divisive Trump politics that Ed Gillespie is using in his ads today,” McAuliffe told NBC4 Washington’s Julie Carey on Wednesday.
“There is no difference. They are bringing hatred, fear, bigotry to our state,” McAuliffe declared.
Carey responded in disbelief. “Ed Gillespie from the beginning has disavowed the white nationalists, has condemned what they did,” the host noted. She even quoted Gillespie, who said the Charlottesville protesters were “off of the political spectrum.”
“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.”
Even so, McAuliffe stood by the Democratic Party mailers. He attacked Gillespie for tying Ralph Northam, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate (and current lieutenant governor), to the notorious gang MS-13.
“MS-13 is a menace, yet Ralph Northam voted in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the street, increasing the threat of MS-13,” one Gillespie ad warned.
Another Gillespie ad attacked McAuliffe and Northam for restoring the political rights of 206,000 felons. The ad alleged that even former Democratic Governor Tim Kaine — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running-mate — refused a blanket restoration of rights, as it would have been beyond the powers of a governor to rewrite the law.
Pushing the racial angle, Northam’s campaign quoted Virginia state Senator Rosalyn Dance. “Ed Gillespie has taken hold of Donald Trump’s racial bullhorn and he’s running away with it in these ads,” Dance declared. “If I thought he could feel shame, I’d tell him he should be ashamed.”
Conservatives argued that this blanket restoration of voting rights was a political gambit to bolster Democrat voter rolls, however. Furthermore, the Virginia Supreme Court actually struck down McAuliffe’s order last year, saying it violated the Virginia Constitution.
Virginians will go to the polls on November 7. According to Northam and the Democrats, Ed Gillespie — a man who condemned the white nationalists in Charlottesville — is the candidate of white supremacy. Gillespie’s ads may have gone too far, but this is beyond the pale.