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Gov. Glenn Youngkin arrives to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address at the Capitol in Richmond
Gov. Glenn Youngkin arrives to deliver his State of the Commonwealth address at the Capitol in Richmond, Va. on Wednesday.John C. Clark / AP

Youngkin 'humbled' by 2024 talk, but stays non-committal on run

“Virginians hired me to do a job and I so am enjoying doing it,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin told NBC News in an exclusive interview.


Virginia GOP Gov. Glenn Youngkin told NBC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday night he is “overwhelmingly humbled” by people who have included him on a shortlist of potential 2024 candidates.

“We’re bringing people together and getting things done,” Youngkin said. “My sense is that’s what Americans are looking for. That’s what Virginians are looking for.”

Asked if he was ruling out a run for president, Youngkin, who is limited to one term as governor, said he is “so focused” on Virginia.

“Virginians hired me to do a job and I so am enjoying doing it," Youngkin said. "I feel every day that that there’s folks who are counting on us and I’m looking forward to delivering for them.”

Youngkin spent much of the fall traveling across the country campaigning for Republican candidates, and he thinks his 2021 gubernatorial campaign should be a roadmap for Republicans nationwide.

“I think our job as Republicans is to continue to demonstrate that there’s room in our party for everyone,” Youngkin said. “We do believe in low taxes, and small business, and strong defense, and standing up for law enforcement. And by the way, educational excellence. We should be the party of education. I think that’s what we prove in Virginia.”

Amid speculation about his national ambitions, Youngkin also has to govern.

In the wake of the mass shootings on the campus of the University of Virginia and inside a Wal-Mart in Chesapeake, Va., Youngkin proposed a $230 million behavioral health plan that overhauls the commonwealth’s current system, and provides millions towards mobile crisis units and Telehealth efforts.

Youngkin did not lay out additional measures to prevent gun violence, arguing that Virginia has some of the toughest gun laws in the nation.

“We don’t actually use the gun laws on the books, and in fact we need to prosecute," Youngkin said. "And when there’s a crime committed with a gun, we in fact need to prosecute.” 

Asked if he was suggesting prosecuting the six-year-old who police say walked into his school in Newport News, Va., last week and shot his teacher, Youngkin noted the rare situation.

“You know we’ve never dealt with this,” Youngkin said. “There’s a lot to understand here.”

During his hour-long address to a joint assembly Wednesday afternoon, Youngkin claimed the “state of our Commonwealth is substantially better than it was last year,” painting a dark picture of Virginia before he took office. 

While he urged bipartisanship throughout his remarks, Youngkin touched on a number of national hot-button issues, including abortion.

“As we embark on the next 46 days, when it comes to unborn children, we can come together,” Youngkin assured the Joint Assembly, as he asked the legislature to pass a ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

“It is clear, Virginians want fewer abortions, not more,” he said. 

Youngkin’s push for that 15-week abortion ban was made more difficult by Democrat Aaron Rouse winning Tuesday’s state Senate special election in the Virginia Beach area, boosting Democrats' majority in the chamber.