With Republican Glenn Youngkin taking the lead in the RealClearPolitics average of polls in the Virginia governor’s race, Democrats are doubling down on their longstanding strategy of labeling Youngkin a racist.
Aping a new ad from the Lincoln Project, Representative Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) asserted on Thursday that Youngkin was held back from using a racial epithet only by political necessity.
“There’s a word @GlennYoungkin would really like to say to talk about black people, but he knows he can’t, so he codes it with ‘Critical Race Theory.’ Don’t take my word, trust the honorable Republicans who made this ad and know how this ugly strategy works,” wrote Swalwell on Twitter, quote tweeting the Lincoln Project’s latest ad.
There’s a word @GlennYoungkin would really like to say to talk about black people, but he knows he can’t, so he codes it with “Critical Race Theory.” Don’t take my word, trust the honorable Republicans who made this ad and know how this ugly strategy works. https://t.co/J8Nqqriy0p
— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) October 29, 2021
According to the Democratic PAC, Youngkin’s focus on critical race theory in schools represents a continuation of the much-maligned “southern strategy,” as described by the late political operative Lee Atwater — which served to appeal to and gather electoral votes from southern states using coded language to denigrate African-Americans.
Youngkin’s popular education platform rests on banning critical race theory from being taught in public schools has been a part of and has helped him claw back from an early deficit in the race. In a September Emerson poll of the state, 47 percent of voters said they would support a critical race theory ban, while only 36 percent outright opposed such a measure.
While Youngkin opposes race essentialism and the teaching of a pigment-based dichotomy of victims and oppressors, he has also stated that “America has fabulous chapters and it’s the greatest country in the world, but we also have some abhorrent chapters in our history, we must teach them.”
Then on Friday, a small group of men wearing sunglasses and baseball hats while brandishing tiki torches posed for a picture in front of Youngkin’s campaign bus in an apparent attempt to pay homage to the marchers at the 2017 white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Va.
Social media users have speculated that the small group, which neither Youngkin nor the Youngkin campaign invited or promoted, is likely comprised of Democratic activists. That speculation has been aided by one of the participants in the group appearing to be of African-American descent.
That has not, however, stopped the campaign of Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, from trying to blame the Republican for the incident. Jen Goodman, a spokeswoman for the McAuliffe campaign called it “disgusting and disqualifying.”
McAuliffe, for his part, has campaigned with and defended incumbent Democratic governor Ralph Northam, who survived a blackface scandal in 2019.
Swalwell’s office did not respond to a request for comment.