Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin broke with former President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican who voted to impeach Trump says he won’t seek reelection Youngkin breaks with Trump on whether Democrats will cheat in the Virginia governor’s race Trump endorses challenger in Michigan AG race MORE on Thursday on whether he believes Democrats will cheat in the upcoming election.
“No, I think we’re going to have a clean, fair election and I fully expect to win,” Youngkin told moderator Susan Page at the first Virginia general election debate of the cycle.
Additionally, Youngkin said he did not believe there had been significant fraud in Virginia’s elections.
The question to Youngkin was a reference to comments Trump, who has endorsed Youngkin, made on “The John Fredericks Show” earlier this month.
“You know how they cheat in elections. The Virginia governor’s election — you better watch it,” Trump told the conservative Virginia-based talk show host.
Yougkin’s Democratic opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), has repeatedly sought to tie Youngkin to Trump, citing Trump’s endorsement and his unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged.
McAuliffe has repeatedly pointed to Youngkin’s “Election Integrity Task Force,” which he launched in February prior to winning the Republican nomination for governor, as evidence Youngkin is aligned with Trump on the issue. Youngkin said the effort is designed to establish legal voting standards in election processes.
When asked why he frequently inserts Trump into his campaign rhetoric and attacks against Youngkin, McAuliffe said it was Youngkin who inserted Trump into the campaign.
“We know the damage that Donald Trump has done to this country,” McAuliffe said.
Youngkin fired back at McAuliffe, citing comments the Democrat made in the early 2000s about the highly contested 2000 presidential election in which he said Democrats won the election.
Both candidates said they would accept the other as the legitimately elected governor if the other won the general election.
The forum marked the first time the candidates came face-to-face on the debate stage during the general election. McAuliffe and Youngkin sparred on a number of topics including abortion, the economy and coronavirus restrictions. The debate also comes as the race enters its final stretch with early voting kicking off in Virginia on Friday.
The next debate is slated to take place Sept. 28 at George Mason University.