Virginia gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie is embracing monuments to racism as he tries to fend off the campaign of Democratic rival Ralph Northam, currently leading in most polls.
Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie is going all in on racism in the final weeks before the election.
In a newly released campaign ad, Gillespie vows to preserve statues erected to honor the treasonous movement that sought to preserve and extend the practice of owning black people within the United States.
Gillespie criticized his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, for his strong opposition to racism and preservation of racist icons. Gillespie's ad actually criticizes Northam for promising to remove the monuments.
The ad features the statue of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee, which was the focal point of Nazis, klansmen, and other white supremacists who rioted in Charlottesville in August to protest its possible removal.
It was during this violent weekend of protests that Heather Heyer was killed by a racist.
And it's this very monument that Gillespie is vowing to protect in his new ad.
NARRATOR: For governor, there's a clear choice. Ralph Northam wants to take down Virginia's Civil War monuments.
NORTHAM: I will do everything that I can to remove the statues at the state level. Remove the statues at the state level.
NARRATOR: Ralph Northam will take our statues down. Ed Gillespie will preserve them.
GILLESPIE: I'm for keepin' 'em up and he's for taking 'em down. And that's a big difference in November.
Gillespie's stance in favor of honoring pro-slavery forces echoes Donald Trump, who described the statues as "beautiful," despite their symbolic role in defending and honoring human bondage, subjugation, rape, and murder.
Trump has openly endorsed Gillespie and praised the race-baiting anti-Latino ad campaign the candidate has been using to try to scare up votes. Trump, of course, built his entire presidential campaign on the same message of demonizing Latinos.
Earlier in the campaign, a tweet from Gillespie said that Northam's opposition to the pro-slavery statues meant he had "turned his back on his own family's heritage."
Northam quickly answered the smear: "I feel fine about turning my back on white supremacy." Many called out the Gillespie message for pandering to racist sentiment, and it was deleted.
The campaign at the time said, "We apologize and reiterate our denunciation of racism in all forms."
Recent revelations show that Gillespie was secretly lobbying for his corporate clients while he worked in the White House for George W. Bush. At the same time polling shows a close race, with an edge for Northam in all but one result.
The new ad, combined with a Gillespie alliance with white supremacists, shows a campaign embracing the full Trump Republican racist agenda and hoping to use an appeal to racism for a hollow political victory.