On Wednesday, Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin participated in an event with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley in McLean, Virginia to discuss a variety of topics. The campaign between Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe has gained national attention as of late.
Youngkin also spoke with Townhall before the event, specifically about how young people can get involved with the campaign, which is through the Students for Glenn Youngkin coalition. This is for students as well as those involved in Young Republican groups.
When it comes to the issues young people have shared they care most about, Youngkin told Townhall that it is to do with "the durability of our economy and jobs and cost of living." He continued that "folks just want to have an opportunity to live their career dream in Virginia, and they're worried they have to go some place else to do it." Youngkin offered that "this is just reflective of the fact that our job creation has not really kept pace with our peer states." Young people have told Youngkin that they're moving to places such as Nashville, North Carolina, Texas, or Charleston.
Expense is another concern. This applies to the urban portions of northern Virginia, but across the commonwealth, as Youngkin shared, since the cost of living has gone up in numerous areas.
That being said, this need not only apply to young people. "What everyone wants," Youngkin shared, "is the chance to live their American dream, to have a job that allows them to live their career aspirations and actually buy a house, and to do the things that they really want to do, and they're worried that they can't do it in Virginia right now."
A common theme of the Youngkin campaign has been making Virginia "the best place to live, work, and raise a family." This message was felt during the discussion with Ambassador Haley, as well as Youngkin's frequently communicated sense of optimism.
In a previous conversation with Townhall, Youngkin touted his support from college students. While campaigning in the primary, Youngkin received the most support from the the College Republicans at Liberty (CRLU) in their straw poll.
During the main event, before a packed house of at least 200 people, the crowd was a receptive one to the various topics discussed. There were numerous applause lines which were quite enthusiastic.
"There is truly something special going on," Youngkin told the crowd, which he called "historic but something new," using words such as "optimism," "hope," and noting it's "a real sense that Virginians are coming together like never before."
Youngkin reminded the crowd of his support he has had not only from Republicans, but Independents and Democrats who have "come together as well, for Virginians" and made "this amazing statement" to resist "this left, liberal, progressive agenda that has been thrust upon all of us and dragged Virginia to a place where we hardly recognize her sometimes, is just not the future of Virginia." He called that "so encouraging."
Such a message became a theme of the day, with there being a sense of "optimism" and "hope," as well as a contrast between Youngkin and his opponent. McAuliffe was elected 2013, but the Virginia constitution prevents governors from serving back to back terms, hence why he is running in 2021.
While Virginia statewide races have tended to favor Democrats as of late, on June 25, the Cook Political Report changed their rating of the gubernatorial race from "Likely Democratic" to "Lean Democratic." Earlier in June, Reagan reported on a poll showing that the race, according to at least one poll, is within the margin of error.
Youngkin referenced a May 17 column from The Washington Post by Robert McCartney, "Republican Glenn Youngkin has a surprisingly good chance of winning Virginia governorship," though he also reminded the receptive crowd that "there will be a lot of people who won't be surprised."
When it comes to the issues, Youngkin repeated "economic durability," which also relates to education and "opportunities in life," so that students can be prepared to compete.
He would also note that the economy is tied to education in the need for workers in the manufacturing industry who need special training. When it comes to a college education, which is not needed for such work, Youngkin noted that there is "sadly and shockingly a great lie told to all Virginian kids, that you have to go to college immediately after high school and incur... debt, and yet the jobs aren't there," which he offered is why so many are leaving.
This was one example of an "alternative path," another being community college.
Through these alternatives, Youngkin offered, children will have "opportunities... to see other paths forward with great careers, with a thriving economy, where we turn our job machine on, so that all Virginians can dream their biggest dream," which he emphasized is "what we're going to do to lift up all Virginians... where Virginia will be the place people want to spend their entire lives," which is what Youngkin "calls success."
On education, Youngkin also highlighted McAuliffe's support from teacher's unions, the need for school choice, and the importance of schools being open. Youngkin noted to much applause that "we have to press forward with having a curriculum that teachers our children how to think, not what to think. We will not allow Critical Race Theory in our schools." He continued to emphasize his pledge to outlaw CRT.
Ambassador Haley also would speak on education, specifically on "the COVID generation," with children who will not graduate high school. Youngkin, Haley noted though, "will choose your children over teacher's unions, and never let that happen again" when it comes to children being forced to learn via remote learning.
In addition to calling CRT "unacceptable," she said "these culture wars are doing nothing but dividing America, when we worked so hard to unite America," but promised the crowd that Youngkin "will unite Virginia."
When it comes to safety in Virginia, not only is crime at a 20-year high, but the murder and rape rates increased each year McAuliffe served as governor. Youngkin also referenced the parole board, which was handpicked by McAuliffe and Gov. Ralph Northam. He described it as one which "puts forth a criminal first, victim last agenda to work and we know what's happened: a lot of criminals have been let out which shouldn't have been."
Youngkin also wants to preserve qualified immunity and for law enforcement to know they have support.
Ambassador Haley also spoke to share "what an opportunity Virginia has." Youngkin has never run for office before, which Haley emphasized to him last year "that's what makes you good," as "we need normal people running for office."
The Youngkin campaign touts the nominee as one who is "a political outsider" but also a job creator.
Haley, as the former governor of South Carolina, who served from 2011 to 2017, was in office the same time as McAuliffe was governor of Virginia. She noted he was "nothing to brag about," that Virginia was not considered competition, and that the Democrat was "drunk on power," and always has been. She warned that McAuliffe would unionize Virginia and end the right to work state status. Further, he vetoed a voter ID law.
The ambassador compared this year to 2009, in that "everything has swung so far left, and we need to normalize it." Not only did she assure the crowd that that will be Youngkin who will do so, but that "Virginia deserves it."
With Virginia having such a high population of those who have served in the military, and Ambassador Haley's husband having also served, this was an important topic discussed as well. In fact, 1 in 12 Virginians is a veteran, although veterans are also leaving Virginia, which Youngkin called "distressing." In comparison, North Carolina and South Carolina are having a net gain of veterans.
Youngkin has introduced policy initiatives, such as lowering the burden of taxes on retirement benefits, to ensure veterans have the access to their benefits through veterans service officers, and make for an easier transition from active member to civilian to make it easier for them to have their occupational training. Veterans will especially be recruited for teaching, law enforcement, and health care.
The discussion also touched upon national and international issues. Ambassador Haley reaffirmed support for Israel. She also criticized the Biden administration's response to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, specifically when they were "so silent," and that Biden communicated the need for both sides to show restraint. "If one rocket came to Washington, DC," Haley said, "and our allies said we needed to see restraint on both sides, we would be furious." Following the conflict, Haley traveled to Israel to share that support for our ally.
Youngkin weighed in to say that the thanks his campaign has received for supporting Virginia "is... reflective of the values of Virginians." In contrast, McAuliffe has touted his endorsement from Emgage, an anti-Israel, pro-BDSM movement group, which Youngkin said "reflects a person who doesn't really have a compass, doesn't have a center of gravity on what's most important."
With many members of the Women for Glenn Youngkin coalition being at the event, Youngkin and Haley discussed how school closures disproportionately affected women who had to look after their children and elderly parents. The economy can "get moving again" through small businesses receiving a tax break, many of which are women-owned as well. School openings, Youngkin offered, will mean "families can find a normal life again, so that women can in fact no longer feel so disproportionately burdened, to get our economy moving, so that opportunities open back up."
Suzanne Youngkin, the candidate's wife, heads the Women for Glenn Youngkin coalition.
The general election will take place on Tuesday, November 2. Voters will also select the lieutenant governor and attorney general. Virginia is one of only two statewide elections taking place in 2021, the other being New Jersey.