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Flag Pledge, Trump Phone Call Roil Race For Virginia Governor

Bannon Virginia Rally
Steve Helber
Political strategist Steve Bannon gestures during an election rally in Richmond, Va., Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. Conservative radio host John Fredericks, a former Trump campaign chairman in Virginia, organized the “Take Back Virginia Rally” that drew at least a few hundred people in the Richmond suburbs to fire up the GOP's right wing in the runup to the Nov. 2 elections.

Former President Donald Trump called in to the Take Back Virginia rally this week in support of a Republican ticket led by candidate for governor Glenn Youngkin.

The gathering in Glen Allen began with a Pledge of Allegiance to a flag that was described this way during the event. "She's carrying an American flag that was carried at the peaceful rally with Donald J. Trump on January 6th," a host announced.

Youngkin was not at the Glen Allen rally, which included the former president once again repeating baseless claims about widespread election fraud.

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe said pledging allegiance to that flag was unacceptable.
“You cannot pledge allegiance to a flag that was a symbol of a lie on an election and the goal was to bring down the democracy and to stop the vote to certify the president of the United States of America.”

After an event in Warrenton Thursday, Youngkin told reporters he doesn’t know what happened at the rally because he wasn't involved, although he adds that if the flag was part of the insurrection people shouldn't pledge allegiance to it. He also says he believes there's no place for violence in America today.

The Youngkin campaign later release a written statement:

“While I had no role in last night’s event, I have heard about it from many people in the media today. It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to
a flag connected to January 6. As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6 was sickening and wrong.

“Today, a radical group called NARAL that wants to defund our police is supporting Terry McAuliffe’s campaign. At least one Democrat in Virginia has already rejected NARAL’s endorsement. McAuliffe needs to come out today and say NARAL is wrong.

“My campaign isn’t about the past, it is about the future and bringing everyone – Republicans, Independents, and Democrats – together around my vision for a Virginia that is safer, stronger, and less divisive, with the best schools and the best law enforcement and the best economy.

“McAuliffe wants to talk about the past because he sees this race is slipping away from him and he will say anything to try to get elected. That’s all he can do because he doesn’t have a positive vision for Virginia.”

Last month, Youngkin said, “With regard to January 6, there is no room for violence in America. None. Absolutely not. And therefore, I think there's just no room for it. We must condemn it every day of the week.”

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.