Right-wing media outlets have proven they’re sore losers.
They pinned the loss of Ed Gillespie, the Virginia Republican defeated in the race for governor by Democrat Ralph Northam, on his establishment background and his failure to more aggressively campaign on a Trumpian populist platform.
Gillespie came up short because he didn’t fully embrace President Donald Trump, argued Fox News’ Laura Ingraham on Tuesday as conservative media focused the blame on the losing candidate and away from Trump.
Gillespie, an establishment GOP figure who was former President George W. Bush’s counselor, didn’t “jump on the Trump train,” Ingraham said. She characterized his campaign strategy as “desperate,” and said he “tried to do this dance that ‘I’m not going to campaign with Trump, but he’ll tweet for me and do a last-minute robocall.’”
Trump himself said the same thing. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” he tweeted Tuesday night.
Trump didn’t campaign for Gillespie, though his administration offered the president’s assistance, White House aides told Politico. Gillespie’s team reportedly felt that Trump’s presence wouldn’t sit well with some Virginia voters.
Still, Gillespie touted some of Trump’s favorite talking points. He opposed the removal of Confederate statues, and his campaign ads conflated undocumented immigrants with violent members of the MS-13 gang.
“Trying to be half in, half out with Donald Trump was never going to work,” Ingraham said. “If you dip your toe just in a little bit, you’re going to turn out like Ed Gillespie did, political roadkill.”
Breitbart News took to calling Gillespie a “Republican swamp thing,” and also blamed him for failing to accept Trump’s campaign help.
“Gillespie and his band of virtue-signaling Bush loyalists in the GOP love when political and media elites pat them on their heads for being ‘good Republicans’ (translation: useful idiots),” Breitbart’s Tony Lee wrote.
Gillespie waited too long to embrace Trump, another Breitbart piece argued.
“Ed Gillespie had no message, was inauthentic, spoke from both sides of his mouth, and at the end of the day, even the deplorables couldn’t save him,” Andrew Surabian, political adviser to Breitbart executive chairman Steve Bannon, said after the Virginia results. “Gillespie campaigned with George W. Bush, [but] ran from President Trump.”
Behind the scenes, Bannon, a former Trump adviser, was reportedly “frustrated” that Gillespie turned down offers to campaign with the president, Lee said.
“Despite moving closer to the right on some issues, Gillespie did not directly campaign with Trump, and the results of the election could reflect that,” The Daily Caller wrote.