Youngkin avoids criticizing Trump after ‘Chinese’ swipe by former president

‘That’s not the way I roll and not the way I behave’

By: - November 11, 2022 1:28 pm
Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks to reporters after a Veteran's Day event in Richmond (Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks to reporters after a Veteran’s Day event in Richmond (Graham Moomaw/Virginia Mercury)

A strange social media swipe former President Donald Trump directed at Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin Friday didn’t cause Youngkin to join the chorus of Republican voices saying it’s time to move on from Trump.

On a post on his Truth Social platform Friday morning, Trump typed out Youngkin’s name as “Young Kin,” said the name “sounds Chinese” and claimed credit for Youngkin’s win in Virginia last year.

Speaking to reporters after a Veteran’s Day event at the Virginia War Memorial, Youngkin said he had not seen Trump’s post and repeatedly declined to criticize Trump when reporters described what the post said.

“You all know me, I do not call people names. I really work hard to bring people together,” Youngkin said. “That’s not the way I roll and not the way I behave.”

Other Virginia Republicans have taken a different approach in recent days after the GOP’s lackluster performance in Virginia and elsewhere in Tuesday’s midterm elections, raising new questions about whether the party can hold together the mainstream and MAGA factions Youngkin seemed to unify in his 2021 campaign. This week, Trump has attacked Youngkin and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both of whom are seen as possible presidential contenders in 2024 who could compete with Trump for the GOP nomination.

Youngkin didn’t announce for governor until late January of 2021, after Trump had left the White House. Trump didn’t endorse Youngkin until after Youngkin won the Virginia GOP’s nominating convention last May. In his social media post, Trump claimed a rally he led for Youngkin “telephonically” was a major factor in Youngkin’s victory. In reality, the Youngkin campaign was trying to keep the former president at a distance, and Democrats were cheering for the idea of an in-person Trump rally in Virginia, which they believed would sink Youngkin’s chances.

In a radio appearance on WRVA Friday morning, Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, who has called for the party to move on from Trump, rebuked the former president for his “racist” attacks on Elaine Chao, the Asian-American wife of U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

“He calls her Elaine … what is it … Coco Chow Chow something. C’mon man. You can’t do that,” Earle-Sears said, referring to Trump’s “Coco Chow” label for Chao.

During the GOP nomination fight last year, a mystery PAC ran attack ads against Youngkin over his former private equity firm, the Carlyle Group, and its investments in China.

Youngkin called Earle-Sears “her own independent person” and indicated he isn’t publicly backing her anti-Trump position.

“I haven’t made any comments on that,” Youngkin said. “Right now what I am focused on is bringing everybody together … and getting moving.”

Pro-Trump Sen. Amanda Chase, R-Chesterfield, who also attended the Veteran’s Day event, criticized Earle-Sears’ comments as “inappropriate” and “divisive.”

“President Trump has a great sense of humor,” Chase said. “And people need to understand his humor. Not everybody gets it. And that’s just the way it is.”

Asked if she thinks it’s helpful for the party to have Trump publicly attacking DeSantis and Youngkin, Chase said “we all need to do a better job of coming together.”


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Graham Moomaw
Graham Moomaw

A veteran Virginia politics reporter, Graham grew up in Hillsville and Lynchburg, graduating from James Madison University and earning a master's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland. Before joining the Mercury in 2019, he spent six years at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, most of that time covering the governor's office, the General Assembly and state politics. He also covered city hall and politics at The Daily Progress in Charlottesville.