The timing is interesting considering former Trump state co-chairman Corey Stewart was fired Monday after promoting and attending a protest rally against the Republican National Committee that was not sanctioned by the campaign. As poll after poll showed Trump trailing his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, was it Stewart who was encouraging the campaign to remain in the Commonwealth?
The Washington Post noted the move “stunned staff in the battleground state” and added:
The decision came from Trump’s headquarters in New York and was announced on a conference call late Wednesday that left some Republican Party operatives in the state blindsided. Two staffers directly involved in the GOP’s efforts in Virginia confirmed the decision.
The move to pull out of Virginia shows Trump is “running essentially a four state campaign,” with the focus now shifting to battlegrounds critical to his chances in November: Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, and Ohio, a source with knowledge of the decision told NBC News.
Stewart, caught off guard along with other Trump supporters and staff, told the Post:
“I think it’s totally premature for the campaign to be pulling out of Virginia after so much work and all the hundreds … of hours of volunteer time and thousands and thousands of volunteers,” Stewart said. “The only thing the campaign had to do was spend money on an ad campaign and it would have been competitive … I’m just disgusted.”
Virginia used to be a bedrock Republican state. After losing the last two presidential races, the governor’s office along with lieutenant governor and attorney general, and both U.S. Senate seats to Democrats, the Old Dominion has evolved into a decidedly purple stronghold and is in danger of moving further into the Democratic blue column.
Writing off Virginia makes the math a lot worse for Trump. Take Virginia off the map along with Pennsylvania where he trails, and now some are speculating that Georgia may be in play as well as Utah, both deep red states.
The election is November 8 although early voting has begun in many states.