Virginia Republicans pledge allegiance to Jan. 6 flag and Trump at Glenn Youngkin rally

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Donald Trump's endorsement could end up hurting Glenn Youngkin in the hotly contested Virginia governor's race.

Former President Donald Trump called into a rally for Virginia GOP gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin on Wednesday.

Trump gave a forceful endorsement of Youngkin and his running mate, Winsome Sears.

"I'll tell you what, Glenn Youngkin is a great gentleman," Trump said on Wednesday night. "He loves his state. We've got to get him in."

Former Trump White House senior adviser Steve Bannon also attended the event. Bannon has embraced white supremacist views and is currently engulfed in the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Rally attendees even recited the Pledge of Allegiance to an American flag that was "carried" at the Jan. 6 rally that preceded the violent and deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where a mob of Trump loyalists tried to block the transfer of power from Trump to President Joe Biden.

John Fredericks, a conservative radio host, hosted the rally in Henrico, Virginia. Youngkin did not attend the rally but thanked Fredericks for hosting the event.

Trump's endorsement could hurt Youngkin, who is running for governor in a state Biden won by 10 points in 2020. A recent Fox News poll in the state found Trump's approval rating at 41%, compared to Biden's 49% approval rating.

Youngkin has been trying to thread the needle of activating Trump supporters to get out and vote without turning off the independent voters he needs to win.

Trump himself has criticized Youngkin for not fully embracing the "MAGA movement."

"When they try to go down a railroad track, you know, 'Hey, oh yeah, sure, love it, love it. Oh, yeah, love Trump. Love Trump. Okay, let’s go, next subject.' When they do that they never win. They never win. They have to embrace it," Trump told Fredericks on his radio show in September.

Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe's campaign was quick to use the rally to tie Youngkin to Trump, arguing that Youngkin would bring Trump's policies to Virginia.

"Glenn Youngkin was endorsed again tonight by Donald Trump at a rally where attendees pledged allegiance to a flag flown at the deadly January 6th insurrection," McAuliffe tweeted on Wednesday. "Beyond disturbing, this is sick. And Glenn is honored to have Trump’s endorsement."

Polling shows the governor's race is close, with McAuliffe leading Youngkin by 2.5 points, according to the FiveThirtyEight average. Election Day is Nov. 2, and early voting has already begun in the state.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.