Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Glenn Youngkin, alluded in an undercover video released Wednesday that he has limited his public comments about his full stance on abortion rights so he doesn’t alienate independent voters, statements that his Democratic opponent claimed amounted to a campaign lie meant to hide his “radical views.”
The video, shot at a campaign event last month, was released by Lauren Windsor, who runs an online political show called “The Undercurrent.” It was initially published by the American Independent, a liberal news site, and parts of the footage later aired on MSNBC.
In the clip, Windsor poses as a fierce opponent of abortion who speaks with Youngkin about so-called fetal heartbeat bills and defunding Planned Parenthood. The Republican responds that he is “staunchly, unabashedly pro-life” before another person heard in the footage asks if he would defund Planned Parenthood or “take it to the abortionists.”
“I’m going to be really honest with you. The short answer is in this campaign, I can’t,” Youngkin replies. “When I’m governor and I have a majority in the House, we can start going on offense. But as a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get.”
Youngkin spokesperson Matt Wolking said late Wednesday that the video was “deceptively recorded” and added that the candidate’s comment “demonstrates that Glenn Youngkin says the same thing no matter who he is talking to.”
“Glenn Youngkin tells everyone he meets the same thing: he can’t wait to go on offense for the people of Virginia by building a rip-roaring economy, creating more jobs with bigger paychecks, restoring excellence in education, prioritizing public safety, and making Virginia the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family,” Wolking said in a statement.
Youngkin campaigned for the GOP nomination by saying he was “unabashedly” pro-life, telling a crowd in May that he would work to “protect the life of every Virginia child, born and unborn.” But The Washington Post noted a few weeks later that such statements had largely disappeared from his public comments.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, the former Virginia governor who is running for another term, said his opponent’s comments demonstrated that the Republican had lied to voters and that it raised questions about his other political positions.
“Glenn Youngkin wants to defund Planned Parenthood and ban abortion,”McAuliffe wrote on Twitter. “If that wasn’t bad enough, he’s now admitted he’s lying to voters about his radical views. Virginians deserve to know: what other right-wing positions is Glenn Youngkin hiding from us?”
Planned Parenthood Action had a short response to the comments: “Yikes.”
Youngkin, a first-time candidate who has a large fortune from his business career, won the GOP nomination in May. Republicans have not won a statewide election in Virginia since 2009, although Youngkin could see better prospects because he wasn’t as closely aligned with former President Donald Trump as were other Republicans in the race.
Trump lost the state by about 10 percentage points in the 2020 election.