Anti-Trump group Lincoln Project admits planting fake ‘Unite the Right’ members in racist garb at Youngkin rally after aides for surging GOP nominee in Va. governor race blamed rival McAuliffe team of dressing up bogus Youngkin backer
- Five people holding tiki torches stood outside a campaign bus for the pro-Trump candidate for Virginia’s gubernatorial race on Friday
- The five were in Charlottesville, in a deliberate echo of the August 2017 rally under the banner Unite The Right which saw neo-Nazis clash with counterprotesters
- One person died in the violence and Donald Trump sparked fury by saying that there were ‘good people on both sides’ of the rally
- An aide to Glenn Youngkin, the pro-Trump candidate, blamed his opponent Terry McAuliffe for the stunt, but McAuliffe’s team said they had not sent the five
- The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans known for their memes, later admitted to staging the prank
The anti-Donald Trump group The Lincoln Project took credit on Friday for a stunt that saw five people carrying tiki torches attend a Charlottesville campaign stop by Virginia’s Republicans candidate for governor – a prank recalling white supremacists who descended on that city amid violence in 2017.
Charlottesville TV station WVIR covered the campaign stop and reported candidate Glenn Youngkin was inside a restaurant when the group dressed in matching hats, khakis and white button-down shirts appeared beside his campaign bus.
The former private equity executive and political newcomer is in a close race against former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe as Tuesday’s Election Day nears.
Photos showed the group holding large tiki torches.
Five people holding tiki torches stand in the rain by the campaign bus for GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in Charlottesville on Friday. The Lincoln Project has admitted to being behind the stunt, to discredit Youngkin
Glenn Youngkin, the Republican candidate to be elected governor of Virginia on Tuesday, is seen on Friday campaigning in Charlottesville
Youngkin is taking on Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat contender, who was governor of Virginia from 2014-18 and is hoping to be re-elected
Their appearance recalled two days of chaos in August 2017, when white supremacists gathered in the college town for a ‘Unite the Right’ rally – ostensibly to protest the planned removal of a Confederate monument.
The night before the planned rally, a group carrying tiki torches marched across the University of Virginia campus, clashing with a small group of anti-racist protesters.
The next day a car driven by a self-avowed white supremacist plowed into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters, killing one and injuring dozens.
McAuliffe staffers promoted a reporter’s tweet about the group’s appearance, using it to attack Youngkin and suggesting that those holding the torches were his supporters.
Youngkin staffers accused the McAuliffe campaign or Virginia Democrats of being involved, drawing disavowals.
‘What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms. Those involved should immediately apologize,’ McAuliffe campaign manager Chris Bolling said in a statement.
White supremacists and neo-Nazis carrying tiki torches marched through Charlottesville on August 11, 2017 in a ‘Unite The Right’ rally to protest against the removal of Confederate statues
The group, chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’, formed a procession through the Virginia college town on August 11, 2017
The Democratic Party of Virginia issued a statement saying neither the party nor its ‘coordinated partners and affiliates’ had anything to do with ‘the events’ at the campaign bus stop.
The Lincoln Project then weighed in, saying it was behind what it called a ‘demonstration.’
‘The Youngkin campaign is enraged by our reminder of Charlottesville for one simple reason: Glenn Youngkin wants Virginians to forget that he is Donald Trump’s candidate,’ the group said.
The incident comes at a sensitive time in the city.
A civil trial opened on Monday that will determine whether the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who organized the 2017 demonstrations should be held accountable for the violence.
Democratic Del. Sally Hudson, who represents Charlottesville in the General Assembly, condemned the torch-bearing incident as a ‘stunt.’
‘Charlottesville is not a prop. Our community is still reeling from years of trauma – especially this week. Don’t come back, @ProjectLincoln. Your stunts aren’t welcome here,’ she tweeted.
The Youngkin campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.