Lincoln Project co-founder doubles down on 'Unite the Right' stunt at Youngkin rally

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Lincoln Project admits orchestrating racist campaign stunt

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Lincoln Project co-founder Stuart Stevens doubled down Friday on the group’s decision to have actors pose as White supremacists with tiki torches at a Glenn Youngkin gubernatorial rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. 

Stevens said the stunt was part of helping Democrats learn “how to win, how to play hardball” after CNN “Prime Time” host Chris Cuomo asked if staging the ruse was “being what you say you guys oppose.”

Stevens said the real issue wasn’t with his group’s stunt but rather that Youngkin, a Republican running for governor in Virginia, hadn’t denounced former President Trump saying there were “very fine” people on both sides of the White supremacist “Unite the Right” rally and counterprotesters in Charlottesville in 2017. “Unite the Right” participants infamously carried tiki torches while marching, with some chanting “Jews will not replace us.” 

Friday, the actors stood with the tiki torches near a Youngkin bus wearing white shirts and khakis. 

The Lincoln Project’s prank, however, has been widely criticized for what appeared to be an effort to make Youngkin appear racist. Terry McAuliffe, Youngkin’s Democratic opponent, condemned the ploy. Youngkin and others had previously suspected McAuliffe was behind it. 

A small group of demonstrators dressed as "Unite the Right" rally-goers with tiki torches stand on a sidewalk as Republican candidate for governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin arrives on his bus for a campaign event at a Mexican restaurant in Charlottesville, Virginia, Oct. 29, 2021. 
(Reuters)

“How much more proof do we need that The Lincoln Project is nothing but a bunch of deranged hacks?” Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, tweeted. 

Stevens claimed Youngkin was trying to “have it both ways” on Charlottesville, adding that the group was the first to use the 2017 rally – which left an anti-racism protester dead after a White nationalist drove into a crowd – in a political ad.

“Some people thought maybe we went too far but we did it. And it worked,” he said. 

Earlier, The Lincoln Project defended the stunt, saying, “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.

Tuesday’s gubernatorial election in Virginia is considered a toss-up. 

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