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Trump opts for tele-rally to support Glenn Youngkin ahead of Virginia election

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump is stepping from afar into the hotly contested Virginia governor’s race with a tele-rally planned Monday for Republican Glenn Youngkin, according to a person familiar with his plans.

Trump will not be appearing with Youngkin. The call-in event will take place the day before an election in which Youngkin appears to be running neck-and-neck with Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who has tried throughout the race to tie his opponent to the former president. 

Trump lost the state by 10 points in 2020. The person who discussed his plans spoke on the condition of anonymity before the event was announced.

Throughout the campaign, Youngkin has played a delicate dance, trying to win over Trump‘s loyal base, which he needs to win the election, while at the same time avoiding more extreme positions that might turn off more moderate voters, particularly those in suburban Washington and Richmond. Such moderates turned against Trump and helped deliver President Joe Biden’s victory.

The last time Trump waded into the race – calling into a rally organized by his conservative allies – McAuliffe‘s campaign quickly made ads featuring Trump‘s praise of the Republican, even though Youngkin hadn’t attended the event. 

On Wednesday night, Trump issued a cryptic statement suggesting he might make a last-minute, first appearance in Virginia before the election, though officials in the state said nothing was planned.

“Thank you, Arlington, see you soon!” he wrote after supporters briefly interrupted a Biden rally for McAuliffe. Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich later said Trump looked “forward to being back in Virginia! Details will be released when appropriate.” 

Biden at that event goaded the Republicans over Trump‘s absence from the state.

“Think about it: He won’t allow Donald Trump to campaign for him in this state,” Biden said of Youngkin. “Is there a problem with Trump being here? Is he embarrassed?”

Youngkin has largely campaigned without big Republican names while McAuliffe has appeared with the biggest names in Democratic politics, like Biden and former President Barack Obama, as well as celebrities such as musician Dave Matthews.

Bloomberg News was first to report that the event had been confirmed.

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