IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

In the post-Trump era, Virginia's GOP gubernatorial nominee tries to thread the needle

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Republican gubernatorial candidate, Glenn Youngkin, prepares to address the crowd at an event in Richmond, Va., on May 11, 2021.
Republican gubernatorial candidate, Glenn Youngkin, prepares to address the crowd at an event in Richmond, Va., on May 11, 2021.Steve Helber / AP file

WASHINGTON — Two weeks before Democrats pick his opponent, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin is hitting Virginia’s airwaves with his first TV ad of the general election in the state’s race for governor.

And Youngkin’s advertisement is all about introducing himself to Virginia’s voters — as he walks the tightrope of being a Trump supporter (and Trump endorsee) in a state the former president lost by 10 points in 2020.

The ad, similar to one he aired before the GOP convention he won earlier this month, portrays the former Carlyle Group CEO as a political outsider who flipped eggs after his father lost his job and who earned a college basketball scholarship at Rice.

“Virginia is being tested. But what we need isn’t another politician — or worse, the same politician,” Youngkin says in the ad, making an obvious reference to the Democratic frontrunner, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

“It’s going to take an outsider, a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia.”

Youngkin’s ad is airing statewide over the next two weeks, including in pricey Northern Virginia, at a cost of $1.6 million.

What the ad does not mention is that he’s a Republican in a state where the GOP has lost in 13 out of the last 14 major statewide contests. Or that he’s embraced Trump (see this earlier Youngkin ad). Or that he’s campaigned on election integrity, although he only recently pivoted to declare Biden the country’s legitimate president.

As we’ve written before, Republicans can win this contest; just ask the current GOP governors of Maryland, Massachusetts and Vermont.

But Youngkin has a challenge that neither Larry Hogan, nor Charlie Baker nor Phil Scott ever faced: How do you support Trump and champion his endorsement — but still win over the suburban voters who broke heavily against him in 2016 and 2020?

Especially when Trump remains so central to the GOP?

In isolation, you might rather be Youngkin than the Democrats in this race — especially given that the party holding the White House has had a difficult time winning (with McAuliffe in 2013 being the one recent exception).

But a political environment where Trump still hasn’t conceded, where Republicans have tried to downplay Jan. 6, and where the former president still plays an outsized role in his party is a much more formidable test.

Infrastructure talks have hit a wall — again

Meanwhile, the chances for a bipartisan deal on infrastructure look less and less likely.

The Washington Post: “Senate Republicans alleged that the White House had agreed to narrow the scope of its $2.2 trillion plan — only to reverse course days later.”

More: “The dispute centers on President Biden’s proposal to package new investments in roads, bridges and pipes with billions of dollars to help children and families. Republicans say Biden agreed earlier this month to seek what they describe as ‘social’ spending as part of another legislative effort, only to have his top aides take the opposite approach during the latest round of talks Friday.”

But the other reality here is that the Biden White House came down from $2.2 trillion to $1.7 trillion, while Senate Republicans have never come up from their first counteroffer of $500 billion-plus.

And if there isn’t another GOP counteroffer, you can assume this bipartisan exercise is dead.

Biden meets with George Floyd’s family

On the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, President Biden and Vice President Harris meet with Floyd’s family at the White House at 1:30 p.m. ET.

And later in the afternoon, Biden heads to Wilmington, Del.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

More than $60,000: The total fines faced by five passengers who were unruly on planes, per the FAA.

About 1,700: The last remaining National Guard troops at the Capitol grounds, who will depart later this week.

33,310,223: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 28,522 more than yesterday morning.)

594,404: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 470 more than yesterday morning.)

286,890,900: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

36.3 percent: The share of Americans who are fully vaccinated.

Tweet of the day

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

A federal judge is calling former attorney General Bill Barr “disingenuous” about the process behind his decision to issue a memo clearing Trump of obstruction of justice charges.

The Justice Department released part of the 2019 memo last night but intends to appeal an order requiring the government to disclose the rest of it.

Former White House counsel Don McGahn is expected to testify before a House committee next week.

Texas lawmakers have approved a bill to allow residents to carry handguns without licenses.

Some states are finding themselves flush with cash due to the economic rebound. What does that mean for federal relief funds flowing to some of the same places?

Infrastructure talks appear to have hit a wall — again.

Rand Paul received a suspicious package at his home.