Youngkin acting like a presidential candidate

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03 Jul 2022, 12:25 pm

Youngkin meets with megadonors amid hints he’s mulling White House bid

Gov. Glenn Youngkin flew to New York last week to meet privately with GOP megadonors in Manhattan, a move that underscores recent hints that the Republican is considering a run for president in 2024.

The day-long visit, which was not listed on Youngkin’s public calendar and included a trio of national TV interviews, comes as the new governor prepares to headline his first out-of-state political event since taking office, with an appearance next week in Nebraska. He also has begun speaking more often about the needs of “Americans,” not just “Virginians,” and has subtly changed how he answers questions about whether he will seek the White House.

Youngkin, a multimillionaire and former private equity executive, used to respond that he is solely focused on his new job in Virginia. More recently, he has begun saying he is “humbled” that so many people “request” that he run.

“I am always humbled by this request, but we have a lot of work to do today in Virginia,” Youngkin told Brian Kilmeade last week, as the “Fox & Friends” co-host queried him about a run during an interview in Richmond. But when Kilmeade pressed him on whether he’d made a decision, Youngkin seemed to acknowledge that he was actively considering a bid, saying, “I have not made a decision yet.”

Youngkin appeared to encourage the speculation in a separate Fox interview that aired Monday, when Kilmeade noted that there’s “a buzz about you running for president.”

“We’ll see what comes next,” Youngkin replied.

Matthew Moran, a former deputy chief of staff for Youngkin who is transitioning to a new role as his full-time senior political adviser, confirmed that the governor met separately with three Republican megadonors in Manhattan on June 23, two days after Virginia’s congressional primaries, seeking donations to his Spirit of Virginia political action committee.

Moran declined to identify the potential donors or say whether the governor succeeded in raising money. Asked if the fundraising and media appearances were signs that Youngkin is inching toward a presidential run, Moran did not answer directly.

Presidential buzz revved up around Youngkin even before he assumed the governorship — his first public office — not quite six months ago. Most of the excitement centered on the high-wire act he pulled off to win a swing state that a year earlier had gone for President Biden by 10 points.

By projecting an upbeat, basketball-dad persona while leaning in on “election integrity,” critical race theory and other culture war issues popular with supporters of former president Donald Trump, Youngkin managed to excite the deep-red base without alienating moderate suburbanites. He engaged in an awkward dance with Trump throughout, by turns embracing and distancing himself from the 45th president.

“I think the governor showed real political skill in his 2021 campaign,” said Alex Conant, a founding partner at Firehouse Strategies and communications director for Florida GOP Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. “I think he also created some national name ID overnight by winning a state that Biden had won just a year earlier. And now serving as governor in a big state with the national media in the backyard, he has a platform to potentially run for higher office.”

That said, Conant and some other political observers think it would be a challenge for Youngkin to break through, even if Trump, who has broadly hinted he will run and would surely dominate the field if so, does not enter the race.
“I think he has a lot of fans and there’s a lot of interest, but there’s a lot of people who’ve been running for president for several years now who are spending a lot more time in New York and Florida with the Republican megadonors,” Conant said.

The Nebraska appearance, first reported by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, is the only out-of-state event of its kind on Youngkin’s calendar so far, political aides said. But the governor is expected to campaign aggressively around the country starting in August, once primaries have concluded in most states.

Youngkin has yet to pick the out-of-state candidates he will stump for, but he will focus on those running in blue districts that he thinks can be flipped red, Moran said

The CBS interview took him well outside his usual orbit of Fox News and Fox Business, offering the Republican a more mainstream audience but also more aggressive questioning on topics he has typically tried to sidestep, such as the Jan. 6 insurrection, gun control and abortion.

The nearly seven-minute interview, led by host Gayle King, had Youngkin reprising his balancing act, as when he was asked what happens to abortion rights in Virginia if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In the interview, which came the day before the court issued its ruling overturning Roe, Youngkin said he’d respect the right to protest but also enforce any law needed to “keep Virginians safe,” including the three Supreme Court justices who live in the state.

Youngkin was more specific in an interview with reporters, editors and editorial writers at The Washington Post the next morning, just as the court announced its decision. He said he will support banning the procedure after 15 weeks, with exceptions for rape, incest and when the mother’s life is at risk, but would settle for a ban at 20 weeks if he can get that through Richmond’s divided Capitol.

This week, he said he believes life begins at conception and would sign “any bill … to protect life” that passes the General Assembly.

In the CBS interview, Youngkin treaded lightly on the subject of the Jan. 6 insurrection and Trump’s false claims that Biden stole the 2020 presidential election. Last year, Youngkin refused to acknowledge that Biden had legitimately won the White House until he’d secured his party’s gubernatorial nomination, and he appeased election deniers by pressing for “election integrity” throughout his campaign.

do believe that Joe Biden was elected president in this country and I think what happened on January 6 was awful, awful. It was a real blight on our democracy,” Youngkin told King.

He went on to assert that Jan. 6 is not the kind of “kitchen table” issue that ordinary Americans focus on and suggested that TV ratings for the committee hearings had been poor. (The first hearing, in prime time, drew at least 20 million viewers, well below viewership for presidential debates but on par with “Sunday Night Football,” the New York Times reported.)

“I think the media cares more about this than the people do,” he said. “There’s prime-time coverage and, candidly, not many people are watching it. And this is because around the kitchen tables in Virginia and, I think, America, it’s runaway inflation. It’s crime. It’s schools. These are the issues that Virginians and, I think, Americans are worried about.”

Rogers nevertheless thinks running would be “a good audition” for Youngkin, perhaps leading to a Cabinet post that could boost his profile and chances down the road.
But others say Youngkin has a shot given that social media has made it easier for non-household names to mount credible campaigns.

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03 Jul 2022, 11:31 pm

Not enough experience.

On the other side of the Potomac, Larry Hogan would be a good GOP candidate. Way better than Trump or DeSatan.

Mona Pereth

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06 Jul 2022, 10:34 pm

ASPartOfMe wrote:
Youngkin meets with megadonors amid hints he’s mulling White House bid
... Matthew Moran, a former deputy chief of staff for Youngkin who is transitioning to a new role as his full-time senior political adviser, confirmed that the governor met separately with three Republican megadonors in Manhattan on June 23

Who are these "megadonors in Manhattan," I wonder?

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