After 24 hours, GOP nominee for governor in Virginia finally responds to white supremacist rally

Gillespie finally provided a statement after his silence drew scrutiny.

CREDIT: Screenshot/CBS
CREDIT: Screenshot/CBS

On Saturday night in Virginia, white supremacists returned to Charlottesville. The group carried their trademark tiki torches, spoke of the importance of white power, and chanted “You will not replace us!”

Ralph Northam, the Democratic nominee for Governor in Virginia, quickly condemned the display. “There is no home, no place, no safe harbor in the country I pledged to defend for the ugliness we saw in Charlottesville tonight,” Northam said in a statement released Saturday night.


The University of Virginia also condemned the event, calling it a “racist gathering” intended to “intimidate and divide our community.”

For 24 hours, one person remained conspicuously silent: the Republican nominee for Governor, Ed Gillespie. This is not because he wasn’t asked. The CBS affiliate in Richmond made multiple inquires and received no response.

His opponent, Ed Gillespie (R-Virigina), was silent about Saturday’s event, and did not respond to a reporter’s phone call or email asking if he had a statement.

The Gillespie campaign responded late Sunday night to an email from ThinkProgress noting that the candidate’s silence was attracting scrutiny. A spokesperson provided this statement from Ed Gillespie.

Last night’s torch rally was a disgusting, craven play for publicity by white supremacists whose twisted mindset represents the presence of evil in our world, hoping to generate media attention they believe furthers their reprehensible organizational goals.

The statement implies the media is to blame for covering the rally and for expecting Gillespie to have a response.

Gillespie has been under criticism for launching a series of television advertisements that seek to exploit racial stereotypes, accusing Northam of supporting the gang MS-13. ThinkProgress reported that one of these ads featured a photo of men from a different gang that was actually taken in a prison in El Salvador.

Gillespie used the photo without permission from the online news site El Faro, which is headquartered in El Salvador’s capital of San Salvador. Gillespie’s campaign told ThinkProgress they would continue to use the ad anyway. The campaign subsequently released several more ads with the same racial themes.

One fan of Gillespie’s campaign strategy is President Donald Trump, who echoed the ad in a recent tweet.

Trump was also slow to condemn the August white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which resulted in the murder of a peaceful counter-protester, saying “both sides” shared blame for the violence.

Vice President Mike Pence is scheduled to campaign for Gillespie next week.