Speed Reads

Capitol Riot Aftermath

Virginia GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin disavows 'weird and wrong' pledge to Jan. 6 flag at GOP rally

As the Virginia gubernatorial race enters the final stretch, Republican Glenn Youngkin is talking a lot about the rights of parents to tell schools what to teach and Democrat Terry McAuliffe is trying to lash Youngkin to former President Donald Trump. Trump endorsed Youngkin via livestream at a rally Wednesday night for the Virginia GOP's slate of candidates, though Youngkin did not attend. (Neither did the GOP candidate for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears, who had been scheduled to speak. )

Before Trump beamed in and headliner Steve Bannon took the stage at Wednesday night's rally, the audience was asked to pledge allegiance to a flag the organizers said was carried at the "peaceful" Jan. 6 Capitol protest. 

McAuliffe urged Youngkin on Thursday to "issue a statement or go before the cameras today" and say "it was not appropriate to pledge allegiance to a flag" that "tried to destroy the democracy." He added that "they really brought a flag up there and they did pledge of allegiance to a flag that was used to bring down the democracy that that American flag symbolizes." 

And Youngkin did issue a statement hours later. "I had no role in last night's event," but "it is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to Jan. 6," he said. "As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on Jan. 6 was sickening and wrong." If it is true that the flag was used on Jan. 6, Youngkin reiterated, "then we shouldn't pledge allegiance to that flag."

The fallout over the 2020 election, "which Trump continues to falsely claim was stolen from him, has been a cloud over Youngkin's campaign as he attempts to fend off McAuliffe's attacks without alienating ardent Trump voters, many of whom wrongly believe President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the 2020 election," ABC News explains. McAuliffe is leading Youngkin in the polls by a narrow 3 percentage points.