The campaign of Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin took aim at comments made in 2019 by his opponent Terry McAuliffe, who shrugged off Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal as a "dumb mistake" months after calling on him to resign.
A new video ad by the Youngkin campaign highlights McAuliffe’s apparent flip-flopping on his view about the scandal, in which Northam, a Democrat, apologized for appearing in a yearbook photo showing a man in blackface and another in a KKK hood and robe. Northam later recanted his apology and denied being in the photo.
An investigation into the photo proved to be inconclusive, with investigators unable to determine whether or not the governor was in the picture. Democrats, including McAuliffe, called on Northam to resign but he refused.
The Youngkin ad released Saturday featured comments by McAuliffe, whom Northam endorsed, that were made only months apart. In February of 2019, McAuliffe called the photo "racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age," and said it didn’t matter if Northam was involved but that the photo itself should be enough for him to resign in order for the state to "move forward."
In July of that same year, CNN first reported, McAuliffe said during an interview in New York, "Listen, even if it had been him in the blackface, you know, it was a dumb mistake 40 years ago."
Youngkin’s ad juxtaposes both interviews, as well as a 2019 broadcast of CNN primetime host Don Lemon railing against Northam.
"This is more than dumb, this is racist," Lemon said at the time.
In a statement Friday, McAuliffe campaign spokesperson Christina Freundlich told CNN, "Terry has always been clear that what happened in that photo was wrong."