Trump di­vides hopefuls in gu­ber­na­to­rial pri­mary elec­tion in Virginia.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALAN SUDERMAN

GOOCHLAND, VA. | The front-run­ner for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion in Virginia’s closely watched race for gov­er­nor ex­pressed luke­warm sup­port for Pres­i­dent Trump at a GOP de­bate Satur­day in Goochland.

In a sign he may be look­ing past the June pri­mary to­ward the gen­eral elec­tion in an in­creas­ingly Demo­cratic-lean­ing state, Ed Gille­spie was crit­i­cal of crude com­ments Mr. Trump has made about women and largely shrugged off pointed ques­tions about his loy­alty to the new pres­i­dent.

Mr. Trump lost Virginia and no Repub­li­can has won a statewide cam­paign in the Old Do­min­ion since 2009.

Corey Ste­wart, a con­ser­va­tive fire­brand and for­mer chair­man of Mr. Trump’s cam­paign in Virginia, as­sailed Mr. Gille­spie for be­ing quick to con­demn the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date af­ter a record­ing was re­leased in which Mr. Trump boasted about grop­ing women.

Mr. Ste­wart also blasted Mr. Gille­spie for not cam­paign­ing in per­son with Mr. Trump or be­ing part of a Virginia “lead­er­ship team” the Trump cam­paign an­nounced weeks be­fore the elec­tion that in­cluded many prom­i­nent state GOP law­mak­ers.

Mr. Gille­spie re­sponded that he sup­ported “the ticket” last year and cam­paigned with now-Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence. But he added that as a hus­band and fa­ther of two daugh­ters he was of­fended by the com­ments Mr. Trump made in the 2005 Ac­cess Hol­ly­wood tape.

“I want to make sure that we try and re­spect all Amer­i­cans,” Mr. Gille­spie said, who added that Mr. Trump de­served credit for apol­o­giz­ing for the re­marks made on the tape.

Virginia and New Jersey are the only states elect­ing new gov­er­nors this year and the con­tests could pro­vide an early win­dow into Mr. Trump’s pop­u­lar­ity as pres­i­dent.

Mr. Gille­spie, a for­mer Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee chair­man and White House ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush, has a large cash ad­van­tage over his GOP ri­vals and has been lead­ing in pub­lic polls.

Satur­day was the last de­bate where all three GOP can­di­dates were sched­uled to at­tend. Mr. Ste­wart and state Sen. Frank Wag­ner trained much of their fire on Mr. Gille­spie, say­ing the for­mer high-pow­ered Washington lob­by­ist was run­ning a disin­gen­u­ous cam­paign.

Mr. Wag­ner, a vet­eran leg­is­la­tor, said Mr. Gille­spie had re­peat­edly mis­led vot­ers about the po­ten­tial im­pact of a mod­est in­come tax re­duc­tion he was propos­ing.

“Ed, be hon­est, please,” Mr. Wag­ner said.

And Mr. Ste­wart ac­cused Mr. Gille­spie of sup­port­ing gov­ern­ment man­dates on health in­sur­ance, some­thing Mr. Gille­spie de­nied.

“He’s been in Washington too long,” Mr. Ste­wart said.

Mr. Gille­spie largely ig­nored the at­tacks and in­stead fo­cused his crit­i­cism on Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and for­mer U.S. Rep. Tom Per­riello, the two Democrats run­ning for gov­er­nor.

Vir­gini­ans can vote in ei­ther party’s pri­mary on June 13.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Repub­li­can gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Ed Gille­spie (right) ar­gues in a Tea Party de­bate on Satur­day with Corey Ste­wart (left) and state Sen. Frank Wag­ner (cen­ter) at Goochland High School in Goochland, Virginia. The three face off in a pri­mary June 13.

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