RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Former President Donald Trump turned his attention to Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday, lashing out against his fellow Republican and taking credit for his win in last year’s Virginia governor’s race.
Trump, who has been attacking potential 2024 rivals, said Youngkin would not have won the governor’s race without his support and made a comment some have described as racist.
“Young Kin (now that’s an interesting take. Sounds Chinese, doesn’t it?) in Virginia couldn’t have won without me,” Trump wrote on Truth Social, a social media platform he backed and helped launch. “I Endorsed him, did a very big Trump Rally for him telephonically, got MAGA to Vote for him – or he couldn’t have come close to winning. But he knows that, and admits it.”
Youngkin told reporters after a Veterans Day ceremony in Richmond that he hadn’t seen Trump’s post. “Listen, you all know me. I do not call people names,” the governor said Friday. “I really work hard to bring people together.”
When a reporter replied that Trump was calling him a name, Youngkin responded, “Well, that’s what I’m saying. And I just, that’s not the way I roll and not the way I behave. And I think, again, this is a moment for us to come together as a nation.”
Trump’s comments about Virginia’s governor come after he took aim at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who like Youngkin is seen as a potential Trump rival in the battle for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
After a resounding victory Tuesday, DeSantis has been praised by Republicans and conservative media, and buzz about his presidential aspirations has grown. Trump has criticized DeSantis before and after his re-election, repeatedly calling him “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
Some Republicans have broken from the former president after several candidates he backed for the midterms lost, and the party didn’t flip as many U.S. House seats as expected.
The GOP is favored to win control of the House and could take the Senate, but races have yet to be called. Still, the election results have left Trump open to more public criticism from fellow Republicans than before.
In Virginia, the most notable Republican to split from Trump so far has been Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears. In an interview with Fox Business Thursday, she called the former president “a liability to the mission.”
Lt. Gov. Earle-Sears did not answer 8News’ phone calls on Friday and did not respond to a message requesting comment. But she doubled down on her thoughts about Trump in a radio interview on Friday morning.
Earle-Sears praised Trump’s tenure, telling WRVA radio host John Reid the former president “gave hope” to people. But when Reid asked why she decided to “bail” on Trump, the lieutenant governor was quick to respond.
“No, no, I’m not bailing on him. I think he bailed on us because ultimately you’ve got to come to the point where you see that this is all about him and it can’t ever be that,” Earle-Sears said. “It has to be about our country.”
The Republican lieutenant governor then criticized Trump for how he has targeted others, calling his remarks about the wife of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Elaine Chao, “racist.” Chao resigned as Trump’s Transportation secretary the day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“He calls her Elaine…what is it…Coco Chow Chow something,” Earle-Sears told Reid. “C’mon man. You can’t do that. He just goes after people. I don’t know, we can’t keep going down that road. I didn’t join the Trump party. I joined the Republican Party.”
Youngkin has dodged questions about rumors that Trump is planning to announce a 2024 presidential bid and did not respond directly about the former president or the Earle-Sears’ thoughts on him.
“Lieutenant Governor Sears is a strong leader. I deeply, deeply respect her,” Youngkin said Friday when asked whether he agrees with Earle-Sears that the GOP should move on from Trump if he runs again.
“She is her own independent person and we work extraordinarily well together and I haven’t made any comments on that right now,” he added. “What I am focused on is bringing everybody together, post the election and getting moving.”
Other Republicans are coming to Trump’s defense, including state Senator Amanda Chase, who ran unsuccessfully for governor last year and has described herself as “Trump in heels.”
“I think it’s good right before we go into election season…that we have these weak a– Republicans take their masks off so we can see exactly we they are and what they stand for,” Chase said in an interview on Friday.
Asked if she thinks Trump’s comments about Youngkin were appropriate she said, “I think it is a true statement.”
Asked to clarify that she thinks it’s appropriate to say Youngkin’s name sounds Chinese, Chase said, “I think it was a joke and people need to understand President Trump’s sense of humor and not take everything so seriously. So I think it was good fun and joking it wasn’t meant to be derogatory.”
The Democratic Party of Virginia rebuked Trump’s comments on Friday while calling out Youngkin for his response.
“First off, Trump’s comments are blatantly racist, disgusting, and unnecessary. That same hateful language led to an uptick of hate crimes to the Asian American community and has no place in our Commonwealth or Country,” party spokesperson Gianni Snidle said in a statement.
“Voters sent a clear message Tuesday by rejecting MAGA Republicans and their agenda. It comes as no surprise that Governor Youngkin refuses to buck Trump. He’s showing once again how out of touch he is with Virginians. If he truly wants to be a ‘unifier’ he should disavow Trump like his own Lt. Governor did.”