Wednesday October 20th, 2021 2:28AM

Trump's false election claims in focus in Va. governor race

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Glenn Youngkin has not talked much lately about President Donald Trump’s lies about voter fraud, the insurrection on Jan. 6 or his party’s eroded trust in elections. But when he has, it has not gone smoothly.

The GOP nominee for governor of Virginia argued this week that the state's voting machines must be regularly audited, suggesting that would ensure “everybody can trust” the process. Left unsaid was that the machines already undergo annual audits.

The comment followed a recent interview in which Youngkin did not directly say whether he would have voted to certify Democrat Joe Biden's victory, had he been in Congress. He later followed up to say he would have.

The murky answers and clarification underscore Youngkin's dilemma when it comes to talking about last year's election. False claims and misinformation about the results are so widely believed by Republican voters that disputing the lies can be politically risky. For months, while running for his party's nomination, Youngkin declined to say whether Biden was legitimately elected.

Now, in a general election, vying for votes in a tight race in left-leaning Virginia, Youngkin has tried to resist being branded as a election denier or letting Democrats tie him to Trump's false claims.

The former president hasn't made it easy. His political action committee sent an email late Wednesday highlighting a story about Youngkin's comments, writing: “ICYMI: ‘Youngkin calls for audit of voting machines in Virginia.’"

Trump has been pushing Republicans in battleground states to stage “audits” of the results. He is unbowed by the fact that the most high-profile examination — a partisan review of ballots in Arizona's largest county — turned up no evidence that the election was stolen.

Democrats seized on the emailed remarks as a sign that the two men are aligned.

“Last night’s endorsement made the fifth time that Donald Trump has publicly endorsed Glenn Youngkin,” Democratic Party of Virginia chairwoman Susan Swecker said in a call with reporters Thursday. “Glenn just can’t get enough and he continues to be all in on Donald Trump’s baseless election conspiracy theories that erode our democratic processes and lead, as we have all seen, to violence.”

Youngkin's opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, quickly released an ad focused on Youngkin's remarks, which overlaid audio of the Republican with shaky video footage of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

“Glenn Youngkin’s priorities are clear: he is running for governor to bring Donald Trump’s dangerous conspiracy theories to Virginia,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

The comments from Youngkin, a businessman and first-time political candidate, came while he was speaking to a historically Black voting rights group, the Richmond Crusade for Voters, on Monday.

Asked a question about whether he would sign legislation restricting voting rights, Youngkin responded by saying he wanted to restore trust in the election process. He proposed removing the Department of Elections from the purview of the governor's office and making it “independent,” restoring a voter ID requirement and making sure “voter rolls are updated.”

“I think we need to make sure that people trust these voting machines. And I just think ... I grew up in a world where you have an audit every year, in businesses you have an audit. So let’s just audit the voting machines, publish it so everybody can see it. And I think when we press forward with this we're going to just make everybody comfortable that we in fact have an election system that everybody can trust."

Virginia already conducts annual post-election audits of ballot-scanner machines, and the one conducted after last year's election affirmed the results accurately portrayed the winner.

McAuliffe approved a bill in 2017 that outlined procedures for the existing audits, and his campaign said Thursday he still supports the law.

Asked Thursday for additional comment about his remarks, Youngkin spokesman Matt Wolking emphasized that Youngkin has been calling for audits since February and said if elected “he will ensure Virginia continues to conduct audits going forward and that they are thorough, efficient and accurate.”

Youngkin made “election integrity” central to his campaign early on. In February, when asked by The Washington Post if Biden was legitimately elected, he declined to say.

But since winning the nomination in May, Youngkin has acknowledged Biden’s win and mostly focused on other issues.

“I’ve said over and over again that Joe Biden’s our president,” Youngkin said during his first debate against McAuliffe. “I wish he wasn’t.”

In the second debate, he said “there wasn’t material fraud” and “the election was certifiably fair.”

He hasn't entirely dropped the topic, though. He spoke at an “election integrity” rally at Liberty University, the conservative, Christian campus that's a popular campaign spot for GOP candidates, in August. Earlier in the summer, he failed to refute a conspiracy theory an attendee raised during a campaign event, according to an exchange captured on audio and first reported by the Huffington Post.

After the attendee suggested Trump could be restored to office, Youngkin responded: “I don’t know the particulars about how that can happen, because what’s happening in the court system is moving slowly and it’s unclear. And we all know the courts move slowly.”

Biden was certified as the winner and sworn into office in January. There is no court case pending that would reverse the outcome.

Youngkin has also drawn criticism for welcoming the support of state Sen. Amanda Chase, who has embraced election conspiracy theories, at his campaign events. And two weeks ago, he did not directly respond when asked by an Axios reporter if he would have voted to certify the 2020 election, had he been in Congress.

A day later, he clarified and said he “absolutely” would have.

Tucker Martin, a Virginia-based Republican consultant and former communications director for former Gov. Bob McDonnell, said that with the race close and in its final stretch, the McAuliffe campaign has reason to link Youngkin to Trump — it will fire up the Democratic voters who delivered the state to Biden last year.

“This is what the Democrats are going to do to Glenn Youngkin, from here till the election ends. They need to find any possible opportunity to remind voters that Glenn Youngkin is part of Donald Trump’s party.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Braves, Brewers spurred to playoffs by bold midseason deals
Both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers had to shake up their fortunes by changing the lineups in order to punch a fourth consecutive playoff ticket
7:23PM ( 20 minutes ago )
The AP Interview: Jayapal pushes Biden for $3T spending bill
Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal is pushing President Joe Biden to hold the line
7:17PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Trump's false election claims in focus in Va. governor race
Republican Glenn Youngkin has not talked much about the 2020 election, President Donald Trump’s lies about fraud and the insurrection on Jan. 6
7:16PM ( 28 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Texas judge says abortions can resume, but future uncertain
Abortions in Texas can resume under a federal judge’s ruling, but for how long
6:51PM ( 52 minutes ago )
Abortions resume in some Texas clinics after judge halts law
Abortions have resumed in at least six Texas clinics after a federal judge halted the most restrictive abortion law in the U.S. Amy Hagstrom Miller is the president of Whole Woman's Health, which has four clinics in Texas
6:50PM ( 53 minutes ago )
Biden to restore 2 Utah national monuments cut by Trump
Utah's governor says President Joe Biden has decided to restore two sprawling national monuments in his state that were significantly downsized under President Donald Trump
6:43PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Stocks closing higher as receding debt fears spur rally
Stocks are closing higher on Wall Street Thursday as investors welcomed progress in Congress' standoff over extending the federal debt ceiling
4:07PM ( 3 hours ago )
Court rules Polish Constitution has primacy over EU laws
Poland’s constitutional court has ruled that Polish laws have supremacy over those of the European Union in areas where they clash
2:52PM ( 4 hours ago )
Default crisis dodged -- for now -- with Dem-GOP debt accord
Senate leaders have announced an agreement to extend the government’s borrowing authority into December, temporarily averting an unprecedented default that experts say would have decimated the economy
1:11PM ( 6 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Haley, Scott, Rubio advising group pushing for GOP diversity
A group intent on expanding Republican power across state-level offices is rolling out a national effort to diversify and broaden the GOP, with an advisory council headed up by a number of possible future presidential hopefuls
11:51AM ( 7 hours ago )
Iranian FM in Beirut discusses 'positive' Iran-Saudi talks
Iran’s foreign minister says he discussed with officials in Beirut the “positive” effects of ongoing talks between Iran and Saudi Arabia
7:07AM ( 12 hours ago )
Lawyer charged in Durham probe demands more info about case
Attorneys for a cybersecurity lawyer charged last month in a special counsel’s probe into the Trump-Russia investigation have asked federal prosecutors to provide more information about the indictment
8:24PM ( 23 hours ago )
AP Elections
Whitmer vetoes election bills, says they perpetuate lies
Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed several Republican-sponsored election bills
3:37PM ( 3 days ago )
Ex-US Rep. Todd Akin, sunk by ‘legitimate rape’ remark, dies
Former conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri has died
12:06PM ( 3 days ago )
Japan's Parliament set to formally choose Kishida as new PM
Japan’s Cabinet and leader Yoshihide Suga have resigned, paving the way for Parliament to elect Fumio Kishida as the new prime minister
10:02PM ( 3 days ago )
General Election News
Thousands in Brazil protest Bolsonaro, seek his impeachment
With Brazil’s presidential election one year away, tens of thousands of demonstrators have marched in Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and dozens of other cities around the country to protest President Jair Bolsonaro and call for his impeachment over his government’s handling of the pandemic
5:34PM ( 5 days ago )
Georgia votes in election shadowed by ex-president's arrest
Georgians voted in municipal elections across the country that were seen as a test of strength for the ruling party and which opposition parties hope could lead to an early national election
3:01PM ( 5 days ago )
Philippine leader Duterte announces retirement from politics
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte says he is backing out of an announced plan to run for vice president in next year’s elections and will retire from politics after his term ends
2:40PM ( 5 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
McAuliffe, Youngkin hold fiery debate on vaccinations, taxes
Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin got off to a combative start in the second and final debate in Virginia’s closely watched gubernatorial election
1:34AM ( 1 week ago )
Debate takeaways: Virginia governor candidates go on attack
It was a testy second and final debate in Virginia’s high-stakes governor’s race between Democratic former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin
12:17AM ( 1 week ago )
McAuliffe, Youngkin clash over vaccination, taxes in debate
Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin got off to a combative start in the second and final debate in Virginia’s closely watched gubernatorial election
10:15PM ( 1 week ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
1st projections: Rome mayor may fall short of making runoff
Ballot counting has begin in Italy after two days of voting for mayors in many cities
10:54AM ( 3 days ago )
Once a hero, Oregon congressional candidate funds questioned
Oregon congressional candidate and hero soldier Alek Skarlatos formed a nonprofit to advocate for veterans after he lost his 2020 race
3:00PM ( 5 days ago )
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem defends daughter's licensure
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem is defending her administration’s handling of her daughter’s application for a real estate appraiser license
6:04PM ( 6 days ago )
AP Elections - Campaigns
Braves, Brewers spurred to playoffs by bold midseason deals
Both the Atlanta Braves and Milwaukee Brewers had to shake up their fortunes by changing the lineups in order to punch a fourth consecutive playoff ticket
7:23PM ( 20 minutes ago )
The AP Interview: Jayapal pushes Biden for $3T spending bill
Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal is pushing President Joe Biden to hold the line
7:17PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Small crack in pipeline may have delayed oil spill detection
Video of the ruptured underwater pipeline that spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil off Southern California shows a thin crack that could indicate a slow leak that was difficult to initially detect
7:11PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Biden, a convert to vaccine mandates, champions compliance
President Joe Biden is championing COVID-19 vaccination requirements and is determined that the roughly 67 million unvaccinated American adults must get the shot even as he acknowledges that mandates weren't his “first instinct.”
7:08PM ( 35 minutes ago )
Fort Hood launches effort to address sexual assault, suicide
U.S. Army officials have unveiled a new resource and training center at Fort Hood that aims to create a more supportive culture following reports of murder, suicide and sexual assault at the embattled Texas military installation
6:58PM ( 46 minutes ago )