MEMO: Gillespie, Trump, and Stewart: Three Divisive Peas in a Pod

MEMO: Gillespie, Trump, and Stewart: Three Divisive Peas in a Pod

TO: Interested Parties

FROM: Jessica Mackler, American Bridge President

DATE: August 23, 2017

Ed Gillespie’s campaign slogan may be “For All Virginians,” but it is clear that his campaign is anything but. While the entire country is reeling from Donald Trump’s recent defense of white supremacists, it’s important to take a closer look at politicians – like Gillespie – who refuse to stand up against Trump. Although Gillespie has been accused of both hiding from and sucking up to the Trump administration, the truth is that his language is strikingly similar to the rhetoric of both Corey Stewart, who nearly toppled him in the primary, and Donald Trump.

Take for example, last week’s terrible events in Charlottesville. While Donald Trump continues to be blasted for blaming the violence during the “Unite the Right” rally on two sides, Ed Gillespie echoed Trump’s statement, blaming the violence on “both sides,” instead of the hateful and violent ideology and actions of white supremacists and neo-nazis.

But this isn’t the first time Gillespie has used the same language or held the same views as Trump. During the Republican primary, Ed Gillespie claimed he shared the same principles of Corey Stewart, who made the preservation of confederate symbols the central issue of his campaign. Not only did he share the same values as Stewart, but the Gillespie campaign got out in front of the issue, enlisting a staffer to write an op-ed explaining Gillespie’s support of keeping the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville as is – the same position Trump has taken.

Just days before the primary in June, Gillespie refused to denounce anti-Muslim activist who worked for an organization that touted the need to preserve Judeo-Christian culture – and was labeled an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sound familiar? Maybe like in 2016 when Donald Trump refused to denounce David Duke’s endorsement? Gillespie has also echoed Trump’s fear-mongering rhetoric on immigration, antagonizing immigrants in order to push a bogus idea. And just like Trump and Stewart, Gillespie’s campaign have sought to discredit media repeatedly.

In the wake of Charlottesville, Gillespie still refuses to denounce Donald Trump’s defense of white supremacists and neo-nazis… and we know exactly why. If he denounced Trump, he’d have to denounce his entire campaign and admit that he doesn’t have what it takes to lead the the diverse commonwealth “For All Virginians.”

[To see full memo, click here.]

Gillespie Aligned Himself With Donald Trump And Corey Stewart During His Campaign

Gillespie Aligned Himself With Trump during His Gubernatorial Campaign

Gillespie Stated He Would Welcome Trump’s Help Campaigning. According to The Washington Post, “Asked in a recent TV interview whether he would welcome Trump’s help on the trail, Gillespie looked cornered. ‘Obviously, help from President Trump, Vice President Pence — I’m happy to have all the help I can get,’ he said.” [Washington Post, 5/29/17]

Washington Post HEADLINE: ‘Gillespie Shifts From Avoiding Trump To Dropping The President’s Name’. [Washington Post, 7/20/17]

After Nearly Losing The Primary To Corey Stewart, Gillespie And Campaign Surrogates Began “Conspicuously Dropping Trump’s Name.” According to The Washington Post, “Since launching his bid for Virginia governor, the establishment Republican had treated the man in the White House like a Voldemortian unmentionable. That was widely considered a smart strategy in a swing state that went for Hillary Clinton in November and where the president’s approval rating sat at 36 percent in a Washington Post-Schar School poll in May. Then Gillespie nearly lost the June 13 GOP primary to a Trump-style populist, Corey Stewart. And ever since, senior Republicans have been pushing him to embrace the president and hire some of Trump’s strategists to shore up the Republican base ahead of November’s election. Some aired their concerns in a Washington Post article last week. As of this week, Gillespie and campaign surrogates began conspicuously dropping Trump’s name.‘Having a governor who can work with a Republican House, a Republican Senate, President Trump, Vice President Pence, the Trump administration — I think is an asset for us in Virginia,’ Gillespie told reporters Monday.” [Washington Post, 7/20/17]

Gillespie Claimed He And Corey Stewart Shared Conservative Principles

[Video] Gillespie Claimed That He And Corey Stewart Shared Principles. According to American Bridge Tracking Footage, “This week, when asked how he’d unify his party in the wake of political attacks from his Republican primary opponents, Ed Gillespie said, ‘I’m running on conservative principles that we share.’” [Ed Gillespie On Shared Conservative Principles With Corey Stewart, 3/29/17]

Gillespie Faulted ‘Both Sides’ For The Charlottesville Rally Violence, As Did Donald Trump

GILLESPIE CLAIMED THAT THE CHARLOTTESVILLE RALLY VIOLENCE WAS THE FAULT OF ‘BOTH SIDES’

Gillespie Asserted That “Both Sides” Were At Fault. According to a press release from Ed Gillespie for Governor, “It seems to me, when you look at some of the imagery, that many of them were intent on inciting violence. And I think inciting violence is obviously a lot more serious crime than engaging in violence, but people engaged in violence. That’s true that people engaged in violence on both sides. There were people – I saw a report yesterday of some of the hard left assailing of a photojournalist in Richmond” [Ed Gillespie for Governor, 8/15/17]

Gillespie Stated In A Facebook Post That “Both Sides” Were Violent At The Charlottesville Rally.

[Facebook, 8/15/11]

Trump Claimed That “Both Sides” Share The Blame For The Charlottesville Rally Violence

Trump Claimed There Was “Blame On Both Sides” For Violence At The Charlottesville United The Right Rally. According to The Hill, “President Trump on Tuesday defiantly asserted that there is ‘blame on both sides’ for the deadly violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va., remarks that inflamed his critics and reignited debate over his hesitance to condemn white supremacists. At a wild, impromptu press conference at Trump Tower, the president defended his initial response that ‘many sides’ were to blame to the violence at the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Virginia, saying he needed to ‘know the facts’ before calling out neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.” [Hill, 8/15/17]

Gillespie, Like Trump And Stewart, Supported Preserving Confederate Statues

August 2017: Gillespie Stated That Those Who Voted To Remove The Charlottesville Robert E. Lee Statue Should Be Voted Out Of Office.According to Mother Jones, “Ed Gillespie, Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, spent the spring and summer campaigning against Charlottesville’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Following this weekend’s outbreak of white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Gillespie is remaining silent on whether his views have changed. […] Gillespie fought back by saying he believed the Charlottesville city councillors [sic] who voted to remove the sculpture should be voted out of office.” [Mother Jones, 8/14/17]

In An Op-ed, Gillespie’s Regional Campaign Director Defended Gillespie Position, By Questioning Whether Thomas Jefferson Would Be The Next To be Banned.

John Massoud: “Ed Understands That To Remove The Statue Of Robert E. Lee” Was “Only The Beginning” And That The Politically Correct Thought Police “Will Not Stop Until George Washington And Thomas Jefferson Have Been Removed From Our History As Well.” In a Northern Virginia Daily op-ed John Massoud wrote, “Lately, in the GOP primary contest, there has been a major hoax that is being played on the voters of the Shenandoah Valley. The hoax is that Ed Gillespie supports removal of the Confederate monuments. Therefore that Gillespie must be a major shill of big government and political correctness. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ed has been all of his life a supporter of Confederate monuments and the place that Confederate heroes hold in Virginia history. Ed understands that to remove the statue of Robert E. Lee at the University of Virginia is only the beginning. That once the statue of Lee is gone, the Politically Correct Thought Police will not stop until George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have been removed from our history as well.” [Northern Virginia Daily, 6/9/17]

  • John Massoud Was The Regional Field Director For Ed Gillespie For Governor. In a Northern Virginia Daily op-ed John Massoud wrote, “John Massoud is a local magisterial district chair for the Shenandoah County Republican Party, the leader of the Shenandoah County GOP Freedom Caucus, and the regional field director for Ed Gillespie for Governor.” [Northern Virginia Daily, 6/9/17]

Trump Questioned Whether It Would Be “George Washington Next Week” And “Thomas Jefferson The Week After.”

Trump: “I Wonder Is It George Washington Next Week, And Is It Thomas Jefferson The Week After?” According to CNN, “As pressure mounts around the country demanding the removal of monuments lionizing the Confederacy, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that the removal of such monuments is ‘changing history.’ ‘I wonder, is it George Washington next week?[…] In his comments, Trump lamented the push to take down Confederate statues.‘ So, this week it’s Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” ’ Trump asked.” [CNN, 8/15/17]

Stewart Defended Preserving Confederate Statues

Stewart Tweeted ‘Nothing Is Worse Than A Yankee Telling A Southerner That His Monuments Don’t Matter.’ According to Politico, “On April 24, as cities from New Orleans to Charlottesville were considering tearing down statues of Confederate heroes, a long-shot Republican candidate for Virginia governor penned his umpteenth tweet defending the honor of Dixie: ‘Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don’t matter.’ The tweet went viral. For Corey Stewart, whose political profile is high inside Prince William County, where he is chairman of the County Board of Supervisors, but considerably lower among the state’s Republican voters, this burst of notoriety would seem to have been helpful.” [Politico, 5/15/17]

Gillespie Echoed Donald Trump, Corey Stewart Rhetoric On Immigration

GILLESPIE ASSOCIATED CRIME WITH UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS

Washington Post HEADLINE: “In Nod To Conservative Base, Gillespie Urges Eradicating Gangs And Sanctuary Cities.” [Washington Post, 7/27/17]

[Video] In Discussing Safety Policies, Gillespie Cited A “Heinous Crime” Committed By An Undocumented Immigrant To Justify His Support For Banning Sanctuary Cities, Which Do Not Exist in Virginia. “On law enforcement issues, there are, you know, my policies will make us safer as a commonwealth. I, for example, we were just talking about a heinous, you know, heinous crimes, we had a heinous crime up near me in norther Virginia not too long ago where a young woman, 17 years old, celebrating, you know, or in the midst of Ramadan was beaten to death. 17 years old. With a baseball bat by someone here illegally and I do believe that we should make sure we do not allow for the establishment of sanctuary cities in the commonwealth of Virginia and as governor I would sign a bill to ban it. The lieutenant governor cast a tie-breaking vote against that. I don’t think that makes us safer in the commonwealth of Virginia. I think that’s a significant difference between us in this election.” [YouTube – Ed Gillespie, 7/22/17]

Trump Characterized Illegal Immigrants As Terrorists And Criminals

Trump’s First Campaign Ad For The General Election Painted Undocumented Immigrants As ‘Terrorists And Dangerous Criminals’. According to The New York Times, “As the narrator describes ‘Donald Trump’s America,’ the scenes turn sharp and bright. Helicopters patrol the border and Americans are protected: ‘Terrorists and dangerous criminals kept out, the border secure, our families safe.’” [New York Times, 8/20/16]

When Launching His Campaign, Donald Trump Said That Mexican Immigrants Are ‘Bringing Drugs. They’re Bringing Crime. They’re Rapists. And Some, I Assume, Are Good People.’ According to CNBC, ‘But Trump widened that divide — and began his rise to the top of Republican polls with hot rhetoric in his presidential announcement speech about who was crossing America’s southern border. ‘When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,’ he declared in June. ‘They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.’’ [CNBC, 10/28/15]

Stewart Claimed That Prince William County Cut Violent Crime After Cracking Down On Illegal Immigrants

Politifact – Mostly False: ‘Corey Stewart Says Prince William County Cut Violent Crime In Half Since Starting Crackdown On Illegal Immigrants’. According to Politifact, “In announcing his candidacy for lieutenant governor, Corey Stewart touted his record of combating crime and illegal immigrants during his years as chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors. ‘We have cut violent crime in half since we instituted what is probably the nation’s toughest crackdown on illegal immigration,’ Stewart, a Republican, said in an April 11 interview on NBC 12.” [Politifact, 5/25/12]

GILLESPIE’S IMMIGRATION AD CLOSELY ECHOED TRUMP’S IMMIGRATION AD

Gillespie’s Campaign Released Facebook Ads Portraying An Immigrant In Handcuffs And A Border Wall. According to The Washington Post, “In the Trump era, the GOP mantra on immigration is much changed. Gillespie, who has kept Trump at a distance, has mostly aimed to soften the edges. He often notes that his father and grandfather were immigrants from Ireland. In the spring, he met with a large group of Indian American professionals in the Richmond suburbs. At first glance, Gillespie’s Facebook ads on immigration look like a sharp break from that approach, given the pictures of the border wall, the handcuffed immigrant and the driver’s licenses.” [Washington Post, 5/29/17]

Trump Released An Ad Targeting Immigrants

August 2016: Trump’s First General Election Campaign Ad Portrayed Immigrants In Handcuffs. According to The New York Times, “After months of ceding the airwaves to Hillary Clinton, Donald J. Trump has returned to broadcast advertising, with his first general election ad of the 2016 campaign. The spot focuses on a familiar issue, the one that has set the tone for his campaign: illegal immigration. […] The ad opens by echoing Mr. Trump’s recent allegation that the general election is ‘rigged’ against him. An image of a voting location quickly flashes on screen as the narrator says ‘In Hillary Clinton’s America, the system stays rigged against Americans.’ Scenes of marches and arrests in sepia tones suggest a wave of illegal immigrants flooding the United States, as the narrator asserts that Mrs. Clinton would accept 65,000 Syrian refugees and that undocumented migrants who have committed crimes ‘get to stay, collecting Social Security benefits, skipping the line.’” [New York Times, 8/20/16, YouTube – Team Trump, 8/18/16]

Gillespie Failed To Denounce An Anti-Muslim Activist’s Endorsement, A Move Closely Mimicking Donald Trump’s Failure To Denounce White Supremacists 

GILLESPIE REFUSED TO DENOUNCE AN ENDORSEMENT FROM AN ANTI-MUSLIM ACTIVIST

Washington Post Headline: ‘Ed Gillespie Declines To Denounce Endorsement From Anti-Muslim Activist’ [Washington Post, 6/9/17]

Gillespie Refused To Denounce An Endorsement From An Anti-Muslim Activist. According to The Washington Post, “Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie sought and received the endorsement of a Virginia Beach Republican who is organizing dozens of protests on Saturday around the country for a group that says Islam threatens America. Scott Ryan Presler works for ACT for America, which has been labeled an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center and is sponsoring marches in more than 20 cities this weekend to protest sharia law. Presler is also the vice chairman of the Virginia Beach Young Republicans, and Gillespie called him earlier this year to ask for his support in the three-way fight he faces for the GOP nomination in Tuesday’s primary. […] Gillespie’s campaign confirmed that Presler is a supporter — and a Gillespie campaign volunteer — but did not respond when asked if Gillespie would denounce Presler’s support.” [Washington Post, 6/9/17]

Trump Failed To Disavow Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke When Initially Asked About His Endorsement

Trump Initially Refused To Disavow Former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke’s Endorsement. According to The Weekly Standard, “CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Trump, ‘I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?’ Trump replied, ‘Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, ok? I don’t know what you’re even talking about with ‘white supremacy’ or ‘white supremacist.’ So, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know, did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that i know nothing about.’” [Weekly Standard, 2/28/16]

Trump Failed To Disavow White Supremacists And Nazis During His First Speech On The Charlottesville Violence

Trump Failed To Name White Supremacists And Nazis As The Center Of Violent Clashed In Charlottesville. According to CNN, “President Donald Trump, a man known for his bluntness, was anything but on Saturday, failing to name the white supremacists or alt-right groups at the center of violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead, the man whose vicious attacks against Hillary Clinton, John McCain, federal judges, fellow Republican leaders and journalists helped define him both in and out of the White House simply blamed ‘many sides.’ Trump stepped to the podium at his New Jersey golf resort and read a statement on the clashes, pinning the ‘egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. … It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama,’ he said. ‘It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.’” [CNN, 8/12/17]

The Alt-Right Has Considered A Refusal To Disavow As A Sign Of Tacit Support

White Supremacists Praised Trump’s Initial Charlottesville Speech.According to The Boston Globe, “President Trump might have drawn widespread criticism for not immediately denouncing white supremacists after violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., but at least one group seemed pleased by his comments: A neo-Nazi website. Trump, while on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, addressed the nation Saturday soon after a car plowed into a group of anti-racist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, a college town where neo-Nazis and white nationalists had assembled for march. The president did not single out any group, instead blaming ‘many sides’ for the violence. Although Trump’s comments drew fire from Republicans and Democrats alike, the president’s speech drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: ‘Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. . . No condemnation at all.’” [Boston Globe, 8/14/17]

The Daily Stormer Declared Trump’s First Charlottesville Speech A Signal Of Tacit Support. According to The Washington Post, “Less than a half-hour after Trump’s live remarks, the Daily Stormer had declared the president’s words as a signal of tacit support for their side: ‘Trump comments were good. He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate … on both sides! So he implied the antifa are haters. There was virtually no counter-signaling of us at all. He said he loves us all.’ The neo-Nazi live blog also noted that Trump had refused to respond when a reporter asked about white nationalists who supported him. ‘No condemnation at all,’ the Daily Stormer wrote. ‘When asked to condemn, [Trump] just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.’” [Washington Post, 8/13/17

Gillespie Adopted Trump & Stewart-Like Language Aimed At Delegitimizing The Media

GILLESPIE ATTEMPTED TO DE-LEGITIMIZE THE WASHINGTON POST

Gillespie’s Spokesman Referred To The Washington Post As ‘Liberal Media.’ According to the The Washington Post, “’Ed is running a positive campaign of policy ideas to get Virginia growing again after the stagnation of the McAuliffe-Northam administration,’ Gillespie spokesman David Abrams said, referring to outgoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D). ‘Out-of-state liberal media outlets like The Washington Post are free to engage in all the political punditry you want.’” [Washington Post, 7/20/17]

Gillespie Tweeted ‘Only To The Liberal Washington Post Could Pay Raises For Law Enforcement & Fighting Gangs Be A ‘Nod To The Base!’’ According to Ed Gillespie’s official Twitter account, Gillespie tweeted a Washington Post article titled ‘In nod to conservative base, Gillespie urges ‘eradicating’ gangs and sanctuary cities’ along with original text reading, ‘Only to the liberal Washington Post could pay raises for law enforcement & fighting gangs be a ‘nod to the base!’ [Twitter, 7/27/17]

Trump Vilified The Media As ‘Fake News’

Trump Referred To The New York Times, The Washington Post, And CNN As ‘Fake News’. According to Entertainment Weekly, “Donald Trump only began tweeting the term ‘fake news’ at the tail end of last year, but the President of the United States has turned it into one of his most popular social media phrases. Since that first instance, Trump has tweeted about ‘fake news’ 73 times — often claiming prominent, legitimate media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and CNN as ‘fake news.’” [Entertainment Weekly, 7/24/17]

Stewart Denounced ‘Fake News, Like The Washington Post’

Stewart Characterized The Washington Post As Fake News. According to a press release from Stewart for Governor retrieved through Fairfax Free Citizen, “I am Corey Stewart, Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia in the Republican Primary election on June 13. […] I denounce fake news, like the Washington Post, who lie to Virginians and use political correctness as a weapon to shame, ridicule, and silence Americans.” [Stewart for Governor, 5/16/17]