WARRENTON, Va. — Republican Glenn Youngkin is disavowing political violence and an insurrection flag a day after some of his supporters in the Virginia governor's race pledged allegiance to a banner that allegedly flew over the January 6 riot.
Under questioning by reporters, Youngkin distanced himself from a controversial gathering Wednesday night headlined by Steve Bannon and former President Donald Trump.
Youngkin wasn't at the suburban Richmond meeting, but it was designed to energize his supporters and "Take Back Virginia." Former President Trump's Virginia campaign director led the pledge to a flag that allegedly flew at the insurrection.
"I also want to invite Kim from Chesapeake. She's carrying an American flag that was carried at the peaceful rally with Donald Trump on January 6," organizer Martha Boneta told the crowd at the event Wednesday in Henrico County.
At Thursday's Youngkin-organized event in Warrenton, the candidate initially put off reporters. "This is our American flag, and this is the flag we should always pledge allegiance to," he said, turning his head toward an American flag on the podium.
But pressed later about pledging allegiance to an insurrection flag, he said, "I wasn't there, so I don't know, but if that's the case, we shouldn't pledge allegiance to that. And oh, by the way, I've been so clear there is no place for violence, none, none, in America today," Youngkin said.
Some of Youngkin's strongest supporters continue to deny the facts.
"January 6... I really believe it was all planned out by some of these leftist folks," said Karl Nichols of Fredricksburg after listening to Youngkin. "I think we'll never know what happened on January 6. There was well-known Antifa," said two other Fauquier County moms who declined to give their names, referring to a conspiracy theory that left-wing anti-fascist activists were somehow behind the invasion of Congress.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has already turned the Henrico rally into an anti-Youngkin campaign commercial, using a quote from Trump, who phoned in. "I hope Glenn Youngkin gets in there and does all the things we want a governor to do," he said.
"Clearly what was said last night was so offensive. It was his darkest day in this election," McAuliffe told reporters.
Polls suggest the race is extremely close. Tying Youngkin to Trump and the insurrection may be the Democrats closing argument.
Youngkin said he was happy Trump called him, "a great gentleman," but declined to say if he would welcome the former president to campaign for him in the closing days of the election. Glenn Youngkin will be campaigning for Glenn Youngkin, he said.