Just hours after businessman Glenn Youngkin was elected as the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Virginia, on Tuesday, Meet the Press host and reliable Democratic Party hack Chuck Todd took to his MSNBC show and was already attacking the GOP candidate with talking points that perfectly matched DNC tactics. He spent the entire segment trying to tar Youngkin as a dangerous radical.
“Just look at what happened with Republicans in Virginia, where an exceedingly bizarre and Trump-infused convention ended up having to choose a gubernatorial nominee in Glenn Youngkin, who found himself campaigning on the issue of election integrity,” Todd sneered as began a panel discussion at the top of the 1:00 p.m. ET hour. He warned that “Youngkin got Trump’s complete and total endorsement today.”
Moments later, Todd eagerly seized on the nasty narrative Democrats were trying to spin against all Republicans:
Democrats have already said in the Virginia race they are going to play up January 6th and play up Trump’s attacks on democracy in their campaigns. Northern Virginia takes this personally. This race could show us how much of a motivator that issue is, especially with suburban voters and voters with college degrees, which Democrats see key to their coalition nationwide.
Turning to his NBC News colleague Mark Murray, Todd predicted electoral doom for Youngkin: “...he’s somebody who I think is trying not to be very Trumpy but he had to – he ended up embracing the two – you know, one or two issues that Trump cares about the most. It’s like they had to do the minimum to get his endorsement, which already may be too much to win in Virginia.”
Murray agreed: “Yeah, Chuck, it’s going to be quite a tight rope for Glenn Youngkin....He also ended up questioning and campaigning on election integrity, and he has declined to say that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square.”
It’s amazing how closely Todd’s attacks on Youngkin mirrored the Republican’s likely Democratic opponent, former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who took to Twitter immediately after Youngkin won the GOP nomination to rant: “Let me introduce you to Glenn Youngkin: Glenn’s a Ted Cruz and Corey Stewart-endorsed, self-funding, Big Lie believing Trump loyalist who'll stop at nothing to advance the GOP's extreme agenda.”
After playing a compilation of some of Youngkin’s campaign ads in which he condemned Big Tech censorship of conservatives, called for a new voter ID law in Virginia, and voiced opposition to radical critical race theory being taught in schools, Todd declared: “...when you look at the recipe of when Republicans have won the governorship in Virginia, it’s never been by running on those issues.”
Wrapping up the segment, Todd noted McAuliffe being the frontrunner in the Virginia Democratic primary and wondered: “Does Youngkin’s nomination at all help or hurt McAuliffe here?” Murray noted that it was “unclear,” but touted: “I have seen that Terry McAuliffe has been the one Democrat who’s been most aggressive trying to fundraise and tie Trump’s endorsement that he gave today to Youngkin and really elevate that.”
What a coincidence that Todd and Murray just happen to be focused on hyping the exact same thing in their hacky coverage of the race.
Here is a transcript of the May 11 segment:
1:01 PM ET
CHUCK TODD: [Liz] Cheney has refused to toe the line on Trump’s lie that he won the 2020 election. As we’ve noted before, the lie has consumed the GOP. Just look at what happened with Republicans in Virginia, where an exceedingly bizarre and Trump-infused convention ended up having to choose a gubernatorial nominee in Glenn Youngkin, who found himself campaigning on the issue of election integrity. And he’s one of the Republicans who refuses to say whether or not Biden won the election legitimately. Youngkin got Trump’s complete and total endorsement today.
1:02 PM ET
TODD: So what now for the GOP? Well, elections across this country this year, like the governor’s race in Virginia, could end up being major barometers for the future of the Republican Party and future of the elections under the shadow of Trump. Because Democrats have already said in the Virginia race they are going to play up January 6th and play up Trump’s attacks on democracy in their campaigns. Northern Virginia takes this personally. This race could show us how much of a motivator that issue is, especially with suburban voters and voters with college degrees, which Democrats see key to their coalition nationwide.
There are other races to keep an eye on this odd-numbered year, for important signals about the future of the GOP. Even in particularly blue strongholds like the New York City mayor’s race or New Jersey governor’s race. But Virginia’s a big one.
1:08 PM ET
TODD: And straddling the world of trying to have it both ways on Trump, Mark Murray, brings me to the Virginia governor and that Republican primary. Because what’s interesting about the new Republican nominee, is that he’s somebody who I think is trying not to be very Trumpy but he had to – he ended up embracing the two – you know, one or two issues that Trump cares about the most. It’s like they had to do the minimum to get his endorsement, which already may be too much to win in Virginia.
MARK MURRAY: Yeah, Chuck, it’s going to be quite a tight rope for Glenn Youngkin. A little background on Glenn Youngkin, he’s the former co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. He has lots of money, he’s very wealthy. He’s already used some of that wealth to be to win the Republican convention and will able to use it in the fall election. He’s also a political outsider. He’s never run like this before. Which sometimes brings good qualities because you get to be portrayed as the outsider, but sometimes having never done this before, there are certain things you have to learn while on the fly.
But as you mentioned, Chuck, in the – his lead up to the convention, he embraced the former president, airing a TV ad with the former president praising Glenn Youngkin. He also ended up questioning and campaigning on election integrity, and he has declined to say that Joe Biden won the 2020 election fair and square. Chuck, you and I have actually watched this Virginia governor’s race over the past two decades, it’s in our backyard. And historically, it is actually benefitted the party that’s out of power in Washington, the party that controls the White House usually has a very difficult time of winning this election the very next year. And Republicans have a good shot of being able to win it. We’ve seen people like Larry Hogan win multiple terms in Maryland. We’ve seen Charlie Baker win multiple terms in Massachusetts. But the difference here is that Youngkin has ties to Trump that Hogan and Charlie Baker really never had and that’s going to be put to the test over the next several months.
TODD: Well, in fact that leads me to Matt Gorman, who’s with us, Republican strategist. And Matt, let me play a little mash here of Youngkin, a little bit of the ads. And look, he was no doubt – it was a very small primary electorate he was appealing to – but take a look at this mash.
GLENN YOUNGKIN: A handful of California mega-corporations are deciding who can say what. Promoting positions that they agree with and canceling conservative opinions and religious believes. But Major League Baseball and some corporations forget that Americans and Virginians still value common sense. As governor, I’ll institute reforms, like bringing back voter I.D. for all of our elections. And anything that teaches division is not of him, and therefore we will not teach critical race theory in schools. We will not.
TODD: So, Matt, when you look at the recipe of when Republicans have won the governorship in Virginia, it’s never been by running on those issues. It was the car tax, get rid of it. It was Bob McDonnell sort of running more about roads and bridges than he was about – and jobs – than it was about social issues. Youngkin has a background that could make him a very viable candidate, but he’s choosing to run on some base issues here. Break it down for us.
MATT GORMAN: No, you’re right. And if you remember, Bob McDonnell, his yard signs, all they said were “Bob’s for jobs.” He totally avoided a lot of those social issues. But in fairness, he really didn’t have a serious, serious primary, unlike Youngkin. And I think too what you see in that ad, whether it’s cancel culture, the donors and billionaires from California, it was just enough, to your point before, to strike the right conservative tone without totally getting out on a limb and going where Amanda Chase, who was kind of that really far-right candidate, was going.
I do also think Virginia’s changed. I don't think it’s really applicable as much anymore to say it's really the balancing act between the president’s party going back into an election year. I think it's much more of a blue state now. So I think that’s the real key.
1:13 PM ET
TODD: The role of January 6th, Mark Murray, you said, very quickly, we heard from the Democratic side of the aisle and they said that is something that they think particularly in Virginia that they can make a closing argument out of here. What is the Republican counter on that in the Virginia race?
MURRAY: Yeah, I don’t have an answer for that, Chuck, but you’re exactly right, Democrats say that they want to use the imagery of January 6th to be able to seize upon Youngkin’s doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election, his comments about some of the voting machines that are there, and Democrats think the polling’s on their side. That you show the images of January 6th, you link people to Trump. But as we pointed out in our First Read newsletter this morning, Chuck, there is a possibility that it doesn’t work. And if it doesn’t work in northern Virginia, then an entire, you know, Democratic playbook thing that the party is very focused on, making January 6th front and center for the 2022 midterms, could be in serious doubt. So I think this is a fascinating trial to run for us to watch to see how it plays in Virginia and maybe across the country later on.
1:16 PM ET
TODD: Hey, Matt Gorman, what is – how do Republicans – how do you expect Republicans to talk about January 6th? Is it going to depend on what kind of campaign they’re in, a statewide Republican in a swing state will say one thing, versus somebody in a more red area?
GORMAN: Look, I think they’re going to try to look forward as much as possible, unless there’s new information on it. I think that would be the key. And I think whether it’s the election in 2020 or the insurrection, unless there’s new information, I think they’re going to look forward. I think you’re going to see Youngkin do the exact same thing. He’s going to pivot away from, you know, who won the election, hopefully the insurgency, and look forward and talk about school reopening and the like.
TODD: And Mark Murray, there is a Democratic primary. Terry McAuliffe is the bold-face name. He’s got some national name ID, so people know who he is, but it’s a crowded primary. Does Youngkin’s nomination at all help or hurt McAuliffe here?
MURRAY: Yeah, Chuck, it’s unclear. I have seen that Terry McAuliffe has been the one Democrat who’s been most aggressive trying to fundraise and tie Trump’s endorsement that he gave today to Youngkin and really elevate that. But as you mentioned, there are five total Democrats who are running, two women who are running to be the first black female governors of Virginia and in the entire south. The state’s lieutenant governor, a state delegate. And that primary – and it’s not a convention, it’s a primary – is a month from now.