‘What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms,’ says Chris Bolling, Terry McAuliffe’s campaign manager
The Lincoln Project has taken credit for a bizarre stunt against a Republican candidate, and even some left-wing commentators think they went too far.
Glenn Youngkin, the GOP candidate for Virginia’s next governor, was at a campaign stop in Charlottesville on Friday when a group of people wearing khakis and carrying tiki torches appeared outside his bus. The odd getups – especially the torches – called back memories of the white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville that turned violent in 2017.
Later that day, the Lincoln Project, which produces anti-Trump political ads, claimed credit for the stunt.
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the group said in a statement. “We will continue to hold Glenn Youngkin accountable. If he will denounce Trump’s assertion that the Charlottesville rioters possessed ‘very fine’ qualities, we’ll withdraw the tiki torches. Until then, we’ll be back.”
But if the Lincoln Project thinks it was helping, many Democrats are asking them to stop. Mr Youngkin’s opponent, former governor Terry McAuliffe, denounced the stunt and said his campaign had nothing to do with it.
“What happened today is disgusting and distasteful and we condemn it in the strongest terms,” said Chris Bolling, Mr McAuliffe’s campaign manager. “Those involved should immediately apologize.”
Sally Hudson, a Virginia state legislator, also condemned the stunt.
“Charlottesville is not a prop,” Ms Hudson tweeted. “Our community is still reeling from years of trauma – especially this week. Don’t come back, @ProjectLincoln. Your stunts aren’t welcome here.”
Other progressive Twitter users chimed in as well.
“Unacceptable, @ProjectLincoln,” wrote Leah McElrath, a human rights activist and HuffPost contributor. “You took a REAL trauma experienced by the people of Charlottesville and the nation and reduced it to a deceitful political skit. It is incumbent on all of us not to minimize the very REAL threat white supremacy poses by engaging in such stunts.”
Ron Filipkowski, a Democratic defence attorney and former prosecutor, also thought the stunt backfired.
“This was just really dumb and hung a whole lot of people on the left out to dry who ran with it,” Mr Filipkowski tweeted. “More importantly, it hurt the person it was supposedly trying to help.”
The Independent has reached out to the Lincoln Project for comment.