RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - President Donald Trump is giving his strongest endorsement to date of Republican Ed Gillespie in Virginia's closely watched race for governor.
In a series of tweets Thursday morning, Trump said Gillespie would improve Virginia's economy, be "strong on crime" and "might even save our great statues/heritage."
Ed Gillespie will be a great Governor of Virginia. His opponent doesn't even show up to meetings/work, and will be VERY weak on crime!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2017
Gillespie is a Washington insider who has largely kept the president at an arm's distance so far, fearful of alienating Virginia's moderate voters. When Trump endorsed Gillespie's campaign on Twitter earlier this month, Gillespie downplayed it as a nonevent.
Ed Gillespie will turn the really bad Virginia economy #'s around, and fast. Strong on crime, he might even save our great statues/heritage!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 26, 2017
But Gillespie has tried to excite Trump's supporters in Virginia with hard-edged attack ads that have accused Democratic opponent Ralph Northam of being "weak" on gang crime by immigrants living in the country illegally. Gillespie's also highlighted Northam's support for removing Virginia's numerous Confederate monuments.