“I believe they work for Terry McAuliffe ,, and I’m certain he sent them,” Mr. Youngkin told reporters. They’ll do whatever it takes to win. he ‘s doing everything to win. he ‘s paying people for their participation in our rallies .”
The McAuliffe campaign denied any knowledge or involvement in the tiki torch incident.
The Republican anti-Trump group the Lincoln Project later claimed responsibility for the sending of the tiki torch protestors.
“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 Lincoln Project said in a statement.
The small group of men, possibly a woman, wore white dress shirt, khaki pants, and baseball caps. They carried tiki torch and stood in front of Mr. Youngkin’s campaign bus.
At least one of them was Black.
Tiki torches were used by protesters at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville to protest the city’s plan to remove a statue of Confederate leader Robert E. Lee. Protestors also included White nationalists, and the demonstration devolved into violent clashes between counter-protestors and protestors.
Photos showing the tiki torch crew standing in front of a Youngkin campaign van quickly attracted comments on social media. Some of the comments on social media suggested that some of those carrying tiki torchers were Virginia Democratic Party volunteers and officials.
“Just for clarity — the McAuliffe campaign sent a bunch of his staffers to pretend to be tiki torch white supremacists at a Youngkin campaign event? It was pathetic all around. Don’t forget the staffers involved. They aren’t children. “Dirty, shameless and pathetic politics,” tweeted Meghan McCain, a conservative commentator.
An NBC 29 reporter at the event said the group approached Mr. Youngkin’s bus when it arrived and they were saying, “We’re all in for Glenn.”
Mr. Youngkin stopped in Guadalajara, a Mexican restaurant in Charlottesville, as part of his bus tour.
Mr. Youngkin and Mr. McAuliffe are tied at 48%, according to a poll by Emerson College/Nexstar media.
The poll, conducted Oct. 22-23, surveyed 875 likely Virginia voters and carried an error margin of +/-3.2%.