For the past 33 days, Gillespie has not only refused to speak against Donald Trump’s vile defense of white supremacists — he has embraced the President’s ugly rhetoric, divisive tone — and hateful politics.
When it comes to Donald Trump, Gillespie has moved from silence to submission.
As GOP Broke with Trump, Gillespie Said Nothing
Over the past four weeks, a seemingly irreparable breach has emerged between Donald Trump and the Republican Party. White House aides like Chief Economic Advisor Gary Cohn have publicly condemned the President’s response to the hatred in Charlottesville.Conservative Republican Senators like Marco Rubio, Cory Gardner, Tim Scott and Bob Corker have denounced the President by name. Here in Virginia, Republicans like Barbara Comstock did the same. Outside the world of politics, business leaders resigned en massefrom White House advisory panels and charities cancelled their events at Mar-A-Lago.
Yet, as the national Republican Party began to break with Donald Trump, Ed Gillespie did the opposite. On Trump’s response to Charlottesville, Gillespie remained silent — despite the fact during the first gubernatorial debate, he promised “when I disagree with the president, I’ll make it clear.” In the process, Gillespie has provided Trump with political cover — and given tacit support to the President's comments.
The Trumpian Turn
To highlight what we saw as Gillespie’s cowardly, cynical refusal to call out Donald Trump, the Democratic Party of Virginia began sending out daily emails highlighting Gillespie’s silence. At first, the objective was to expose how Gillespie's refusal to stand up to the White House was isolating him within his own party. But it quickly became clear that Gillespie wasn’t just silent on Trump — his campaign was actually moving in a distinctly Trumpian direction.
It was a stunning development for a candidate who once seemed to be trying to run as a standard Republican. But in the weeks after Charlottesville, the Gillespie campaign quickly embraced “vicious, ruthless” tactics — and began its long journey into the darkness. Gillespie aired a deeply divisive and false ad claiming he will ban sanctuary cities — despite the fact that Gillespie himself admitted sanctuary cities don’t exist in Virginia. He hiredJack Morgan — a conspiracy theorist who believes the United States is in the midst of a civil war — and sent fundraising emails attacking The Washington Post and Jeff Bezos thatmimic the President’s rhetoric. Just yesterday, Gillespie invited Trump — and senior administration officials — to join him on the campaign trail.
In Virginia, Embracing Donald Trump Is A “Death Wish”
Why has a man who has spent most of his career as a paid lobbyist in the most elite and rarefied political circles in Washington, D.C. suddenly remade himself as Corey Stewart 2.0?
The fact is Gillespie’s campaign remains in existential crisis. His tax plan has failed to catch on and is hated by Republican lawmakers. And a Republican base intoxicated by Corey Stewart’s neo-Confederate rhetoric found little to like in a D.C. insider. So, in a desperate effort to consolidate his own political base, Ed Gillespie decided to break away from the mainstream and remake himself as Virginia’s very own mini-Trump.
This transformation has come at both a political and moral cost. As Washington Postcolumnist Jennifer Rubin wrote last month, by embracing the President’s politics, Gillespie and Virginia Republicans have chosen to “forfeit their own integrity and make the entire party offensive to everyone else — even to those who might embrace some of their economic positions. If Trump can turn Ed Gillespie into a Confederate flag-waver, then the GOP really has lost any claim to be the Party of Lincoln.”
An Entire Month of Silence
Trump’s defense of Nazi terrorists has presented every leader with a moral test. Many have risen to the occasion. Ed Gillespie has not. It’s clear now that Ed Gillespie sees his only path to victory by embracing not just Donald Trump, but the President’s far right agenda. If faced with a choice between Virginia and Donald Trump, Ed Gillespie will always choose Donald Trump.
Washington Post: Jennifer Rubin: Ed Gillespie goes off the deep end, increases GOP’s unacceptability in Virginia
Daily Beast: The Fight Over Confederate Statues May Lose Him the Virginia Governor’s Race
Huffington Post: Virginia Republican Channels Donald Trump In New Campaign Tone
Washington Jewish Week: Jewish pols to Gillespie: ‘Condemn Trump’
Roanoke Times: Editorial: Gillespie shouldn't indulge crazy talk
Washington Post: Column: Trumpism infects the Virginia GOP
Washington Post: Editorial: Ed Gillespie flirts with toxic ideas at his own risk