Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s campaign was dragged online on Friday after Democrat political operatives quickly amplified a photo of five people in tan pants and white shirts carrying tiki torches in front of Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s bus.
You're probably gonna want to try to kill this stunt.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 29, 2021
How much did you pay these dudes?
— Christopher F. Rufo ⚔️ (@realchrisrufo) October 29, 2021
It’s been clear now for hours that these are Democratic operatives, yet this McAuliffe staffer still has this tweet up. https://t.co/FdVqG33lJT
— Giancarlo Sopo (@GiancarloSopo) October 29, 2021
A local news reporter first tweeted the photo on Friday morning and claimed that the group said “We’re all in for Glenn.”
“Here they are standing in front of the bus as his campaign event at Guadalajara started,” Elizabeth Holmes tweeted. She did not appear to follow up with the group or disclose that she asked them any questions.
These men approached @GlennYoungkin’s bus as it pulled up saying what sounded like, “We’re all in for Glenn.” Here they are standing in front of the bus as his campaign event at Guadalajara started.@NBC29 pic.twitter.com/l681ejyBjc
— Elizabeth Holmes (@holmes_reports) October 29, 2021
Shortly after the reporter tweeted, multiple key members of McAuliffe’s campaign and Democrat strategists jumped at the opportunity to share the photo with their own agenda-setting commentary.
“The Unite the Right rally was one of the darkest days in the Commonwealth’s history. this is who Glenn Youngkin’s supporters are,” McAuliffe’s spokeswoman Christina Freundlich tweeted.
“Disgusting reference to the 2017 Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville,” McAuliffe’s social media manager wrote.
“This is disgusting and disqualifying,” a McAuliffe communications aide wrote.
Others associated with Virginia Democrats and other Democrat strategy groups also decried the photo on social media and used it as an opportunity to target Youngkin.
Adam Parkhomenko, a well-known Democrat strategist and consultant who served as National Field Director for the Democratic National Committee in 2016, also spent most of his afternoon retweeting posts from other leftists who continued to use the photo to slander Youngkin. The day before, Parkhomenko urged his more than 539,000 Twitter followers to follow the McAuliffe campaign’s social media manager Charlie Olaf, who went from having 120 followers to more than 7,000 just as he started amplifying the tiki torch stunt.
Glenn Youngkin’s closing argument. Retweet this far and wide. Text it to your friends, family and neighbors. https://t.co/pAA0JOfydx
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) October 29, 2021
Based on the Democrats’ organized and speedy reaction to the photo, internet sleuths also quickly deduced that at least two of the khaki-clad people at the event this morning bore a strong resemblance to officers of Virginia Young Democrats and Virginia Democrats.
— Alec Sears (@alec_sears) October 29, 2021
Camden Layton, the finance director for Virginia Young Democrats, and Colleen Wachenfeld, who is associated with Virginia Democrats, both appeared to be pictured in the five-person group clad in caps and white shirts. Shortly after Twitter users noted Layton and Wachenfeld’s resemblance to the mysterious torch holders, they both made their social media accounts private.
VYD and VD did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment but did issue a defensive statement on Twitter insisting that “The Democratic Party of Virginia, along with its coordinated partners and its affiliates, did not have any role today in the events that happened outside of the Youngkin campaign bus stop today.”
The McAuliffe campaign also did not immediately respond to The Federalist’s request for comment but told a local NBC affiliate and Mediate that “this was not us or anyone affiliated with our campaign.”
The McAuliffe campaign’s denial, however, did not stop people including U.S Sen. Tom Cotton from criticizing the Democrat candidate for going to exceptional means to take down his opponent.
“Terry McAuliffe is so desperate that his staffers are dressing up like Ralph Northam. It won’t work,” Cotton said.
Terry McAuliffe is so desperate that his staffers are dressing up like Ralph Northam.
It won't work.
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) October 29, 2021
McAuliffe’s campaign already made headlines this week when his spokeswoman mistakenly replied to a Fox News comment request asking her team on McAuliffe’s campaign “Can we try to kill this.” The spokeswoman was referencing reports that just weeks before Virginia’s Election Day, McAuliffe’s campaign paid $53,680 to the Elias Law Group which is led by Marc Elias, a Democrat operative who fueled the Russia hoax.
Shortly after Fox reported on the accidental email, Freundlich claimed that her efforts to subdue the story were successful.
“I think it’s clear based on this story that we did in fact…kill the story,” Freundlich wrote.
I think it’s clear based on this story that we did in fact…kill the story https://t.co/rRCEzAL0Kj
— Christina Freundlich (@christinafreund) October 29, 2021
Her response was mocked by several people who noted that, in fact, the story had not died and was reported on by multiple outlets.
I killed the story that I am talking about and everyone is currently reading about.
Just top notch stuff there.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 29, 2021
— siraj hashmi (@SirajAHashmi) October 29, 2021
Updated Oct. 29 6:10 p.m. Eastern
The Lincoln Project, a group of NeverTrump grifters who knew about the sexual assault allegations against their founder John Weaver, claimed responsibility for staging the hoax.
“Today’s demonstration was our way of reminding Virginians what happened in Charlottesville four years ago, the Republican Party’s embrace of those values, and Glenn Youngkin’s failure to condemn it,” the statement said.
Shortly after, multiple McAuliffe aides and Democrat strategists deleted their tweets promoting the hoax as a display of white supremacy by Youngkin supporters.