|A potential campaign visit by President Trump is sharply dividing Republicans in Virginia — and pitting running mates Ed Gillespie and Jill Vogel against each other.
On a recent episode of his radio show, Trump’s Virginia co-chair John Fredericks reported that lieutenant governor candidate Jill Vogel wants the President to campaign for her in Southwest Virginia and would “do anything to get him [Trump] here.”
“I talked to Jill Vogel over the weekend and Jill was excited about the President maybe coming to Southwest Virginia and she said look I‘ll do anything to get him here. And I think if he comes to Southwest Virginia or he comes to Hampton Roads he’s got big support there, huge following, I think he can help Gillespie win.”
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Those comments ran directly counter to Ed Gillespie, who has refused to invite the President to Virginia. According to the New York Times’ Jonathan Martin, the Gillespie campaign is deeply divided over whether they want — and need — the President to come to Virginia and help “jolt his supporters who may have been indifferent about the race or uneasy with an establishment-aligned candidate such as Mr. Gillespie.” The Trump question has roiled the Gillespie campaign and, according to the Times, causing fierce debate and pitting staffer against staffer. And Fredericks’ latest revelation that Vogel has essentially invited the President to Virginia adds yet another factor into the debate consuming the Gillespie camp.
For Trump’s part, he may not even want to come to Virginia. According to Martin, the White House sees Gillespie as a “risk” and “potential loser” and “is not clamoring to fire up Air Force One for the trip to Roanoke.”
The feeling may be mutual. In an interview with the Times, Gillespie once again struggled to stand against the President — at one point blurting out “I don’t know the President!” after being asked about where he approved the President’s ethics record.