Politics Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin fight for Latino votes
Trump's false election claims in focus in Va. governor race
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Glenn Youngkin has not talked much about the 2020 election, President Donald Trump's lies about fraud and the insurrection on Jan. 6. But when he has, it has not gone smoothly. The GOP nominee for governor of Virginia argued this week that the state's voting machines must be regularly audited, suggesting that would ensure “everybody can trust” the process. Left unsaid was that the machines already undergo annual audits. The comment followed a recent interview in which Youngkin did not directly say whether he would have voted to certify Democrat Joe Biden's victory, had he been in Congress. He later followed up to say he would have.
Leaning over a glass countertop displaying chorizo and carne salteada,surveys the number of distinct nationalities he's encountered touring Todos Supermarket in northern Virginia.
"We got Peru, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico," noted McAuliffe, who first visited the grocery chain in 2013, seeking to court Latino voters during his initial run for governor.
Virginia GOP candidate backs away from Trump’s Big Lie — but wants an election "audit"
Trump-backed Virginia candidate getting snuggly with election conspiracy theorists as governor race tightens Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R-VA) speaks during a campaign event on July 14, 2021 in McLean, Virginia. Youngkin is running against former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Moments later, he asks a butcher: "Have you voted yet?"
Amid an uptick in support for Republicans among the reliably Democratic-leaning demographic, McAuliffe recognizes that even a slight decline in support with Latinos could sink his chances against Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin come Election Day.
"It's critical that I get the Hispanic vote out here," he said, expressing confidence that his campaign's top issues — as well as his opponent's embrace of some of former President Donald Trump's policies — would draw the key demographic to him.
"I've always had great support in the Hispanic community. I fight for them every single day," he said, listing job creation, education and healthcare as his priorities.
Though President Joe Biden won nearly two-thirds of the Latino vote nationwide in 2020, former President Donald Trump outperformed expectations, leading to substantial gains for Republicans nationwide, including in Virginia, which has a growing Latino population.
Glenn Youngkin Says Campaign 'Isn't About the Past' After Controversial GOP Rally
"It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6," the Republican gubernatorial candidate said.Youngkin, a Republican, was not in attendance at the rally, but former President Donald Trump called in virtually to voice his support for Youngkin's campaign. The event has drawn criticism for the comments Trump made to attendees about widely debunked claims of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, as well as for the circumstances surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance as it was recited near the beginning of the event.
While Biden won the group's support by 25 percentage points in Virginia, Trump increased his support among Latinos by six points in 2020, losing by a narrower margin than he did in 2016 to Hillary Clinton.
Officials on McAuliffe's campaign say they're not taking any chances, launching a six-figure Spanish language media campaign with ads on television, radio and online, along with dozens of outreach events in the community meant to sway undecided voters — like Carlos Castro, the owner of Todos Supermarket.
"I think the political establishment needs to understand that we don't want -- and we don't need -- special treatment," Castro said of Latino voters like himself.
A former undocumented immigrant, Castro immigrated to the United States in 1980, fleeing a civil war in El Salvador. He now employs hundreds of workers in multiple stores, and hosts visits from political candidates because he says he likes to offer "another opinion" to those vying for office.
Former Carlyle Group CEO could knock Democrats out of Virginia's governor's office. Here's what to know
Without any other big races this fall, all eyes are on Virginia as Democrats try to weather a decline in President Joe Biden's approval ratings.Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, and Republican Glenn Youngkin, are polling neck-and-neck in the commonwealth's gubernatorial race.
"He truly is an American success story," McAuliffe said of Castro, who led him on a tour of the store and introduced him to employees.
Castro, who also hosted Youngkin in September, says his values align better with the GOP. But extremist rhetoric and discrimination toward immigrants like himself have turned him off.
"When we had good Republicans running the country, we had great opportunities, and we kind of like identified with a lot of them ... with the Democrats, we have some difficulties because some of them lean too much into social issues that only bring, you know, division," he said.
"Having all of this bad treatment from the Republican establishment, a lot of us have been forced to support candidates that show they care about the community and fortunately, it's been the Democratic Party lately," he added.
The role of Trump
As McAuliffe has tried to paint Youngkin as a "Trump wannabe," some voters, like Raul Velasco, see that as a selling point.
"It might seem wrong for other people, but if they said that Youngkin was more like Trump, I'm 100% with him," said Velasco, who says he cast his ballot for the Republican based on concerns about crime and illegal immigration.
McAuliffe's backslapping political brand put to test in 2021
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — Terry McAuliffe is a blur of handshakes, hugs, backslaps and smiles as he glides through the friendly crowd at Gethsemane Baptist Church seeking help from above. For the former Virginia governor running again for his old job, it's not necessarily God's grace he's after at this moment. He's seeking assistance from another higher power a few hours north in Washington, where McAuliffe's longtime friends in Congress are struggling to pass an infrastructure package that could help millions of Virginia residents — and his own campaign. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Oct.
Eager to replicate Trump's gains in 2020, Youngkin's campaign has sought to meet Latino voters where they are, holding more than 20 outreach events in the community and investing in Spanish language advertising and social media.
"The campaign's outreach is remarkable," said Daniel P. Cortez, co-chairman of the Latinos for Youngkin coalition, who voted for McAuliffe in 2013.
The disabled Vietnam veteran said he chose the "lesser of two evils" when he cast his ballot for the former governor because he opposed Republican Ken Cuccinelli's stances on birthright citizenship and speaking only English in the workplace, which he says he found "reprehensible."
But Cortez, who identifies as an independent, says he voted his pocketbook when he chose Trump last fall.
"I looked, as an independent voter, at who best could bring jobs to the nation, and I cast my vote for the conservative ticket. And it proved to be worthy because job-wise the economy skyrocketed," he said, encouraging other Latinos to do the same this year.
This year, he citesas "the most critical issue." The concept has been around for decades and that seeks to understand and address inequality and racism in the United States. It's not part of K-12 instruction in Virginia, but that hasn't stopped Republicans from seizing on it as a political flashpoint.
Youngkin tries to harness Virginia parent anger in possible '22 GOP preview
Glenn Youngkin framed the campaign as a fight over the role of government in public school classrooms and the “fundamental right” of parents to be involved in their children’s education. Republicans hope that Youngkin’s focus on education will ultimately be a blueprint for the midterms. "If it succeeds here, you know every Republican congressional candidate in 2022 is going to pick that sucker up and run with it," said Ron Wright, a member of the Virginia state GOP's central committee, in an interview.
Youngkin has pledged to ban the theory from schools on his first day in office. McAuliffe calls the GOP focus on the matter a racist dog whistle.
Cortez said he sees the concept as discriminatory. Ultimately, he just wants to see race left out of things.
"This is not about race, I'm tired of dealing with racial politics -- in the previous election and this election. Voters are tired. They're going to vote their pocketbooks, and they're going to vote their integrity," he explained.
Health care and the pandemic
Health care also remains a central issue amid a global pandemic, with Castro citing it as one of the most important issues to his employees, who have worked on the frontlines for the past year and a half.
Latino Virginians have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. According to state data released earlier this year, the number of coronavirus cases among Latino residents doubled those in White residents. Latinos were about two-and-a-half times more likely to be hospitalized and twice as likely to die due to the virus.
McAuliffe hopes his policies to expand Medicaid and support paid sick days appeal to Latino voters, but the debate over vaccine mandates has dominated the political discourse.
The candidates are firmly split on the issue: McAuliffe would mandate covid vaccines for students, teachers and health care workers, while Youngkin is staunchly against requirements.
McAuliffe has slammed Youngkin's position as "disqualifying," adding, "I think the Hispanic community knows that I'll keep them safe."
But Cortez said Youngkin's hands-off approach is what appeals to him most about the Republican's pandemic leadership.
"He's got the shots, I've got all my shots. I encourage everyone to get their vaccinations, their covid shots, and we're better off for it. But I don't think government should be mandating every aspect of my life," he said.
Other voters are more concerned about what comes after all ballots are counted — and whether candidates will remember the community's concerns long after Election Day.
"Either Democrat or Republican, they tend to forget about us," said Luz Hernandez, a shopper at Todos Supermarket. "We want them to remember how important Latinos are and how we've contributed to the nation."
The Virginia governor's race is shaping up as a test of the state's Democratic strength and Biden .
A GOP candidate who is uniting the business class and pro-Trump voters, along with Biden's sagging poll numbers, have put the leans-blue state in play.ormer Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe once wrestled a 280-pound alligator to secure a $15,000 campaign donation for President Jimmy Carter's 1980 reelection campaign. In 2009, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman ran unsuccessfully for his party's gubernatorial nomination, but came back to win the nomination - and the governorship - four years later.