National politics seeped into Tuesday night’s Virginia governor debate, with the candidates weighing in on the reconciliation price tag, the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan and a potential 2024 presidential run for former President Donald Trump.
Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe said he thought $3.5 trillion was “too high” for the Democrats‘ reconciliation bill.
“They got to stop their little chitty-chat up there, and it is time for them to pass it. Let’s get this infrastructure bill passed for America,” McAuliffe said, slamming lawmakers for this week’s chaotic back-and-forth on how to get President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package through Congress.
Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was endorsed by former President Donald Trump earlier this year, also didn’t avoid taking his time to weigh in on the national political scene. When asked about Afghan refugees in Virginia, Youngkin took the opportunity to slam Biden on the Afghanistan withdrawal and an influx of migrants at the southern border.
“We saw an abject failure of leadership from Joe Biden: He abandoned our military. He abandoned American citizens. He abandoned our allies, and he abandoned Afghans who had gone shoulder to shoulder with us, trying to make a way forward,” Youngkin said, before turning to Texas’ “open borders” — tapping into another common Trump talking point.
McAulliffe frequently criticized Youngkin as a “wannabe Trump” during the debate, prompting Youngkin to call out how often his opponent said the former president’s name.
During one of the final questions, Youngkin was asked whether he would support Trump as the nominee in 2024. Youngkin, who has made somewhat of an effort to pivot toward the center of the Republican Party after winning the GOP nomination, gave a shaky response.
“Who knows who is going to be running for president in 2024?” Youngkin said, before being pressed again on whether he’d support the former president as the nominee.
“If he’s the Republican nominee,” Youngkin said, “I’ll support him.”