Trump tweets on Va. governor’s race: Ralph Northam is fighting for ‘MS-13 killer gangs’

Ed Gillespie, left, and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam. (AP)

President Donald Trump has jumped into the governor’s race in Virginia, tweeting Thursday night that Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam is “fighting for the violent MS-13 killer gangs & sanctuary cities. Vote Ed Gillespie.”

Twelve minutes after the president’s tweet, Northam tweeted that he was expecting such an attack, adding a link for where to donate to his campaign.

Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate, did not respond to Trump’s tweet.

Northam, a pediatric neurologist and Army veteran, who repeatedly lumps Gillespie with Trump, says Trump is picking up on Gillespie’s attack ads, which feature text on the screen saying, “Ralph Northam: Increasing the threat of MS-13.”

In a Washington Post-Schar School poll, released Thursday, Northam was ahead of Gillespie by 13 points, 53 percent to 40 percent. Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra has 4 percent support.

Other polls have Gillespie within single digits.

Gillespie, whose ads bill himself as a “small business owner,” was chair of the Republican National Committee from 2003 to 2005 and served as Counselor to the President in the George W. Bush administration.

Gillespie ran unsuccessfully for the Senate against Sen. Mark Warner in 2014, but came much closer to winning than had been predicted by polls and commentators.

Northam ads point out that Gillespie founded a D.C. lobbying firm, Quinn Gillespie & Associates, that has represented a long list of Fortune 500 corporations.

Only in D.C., Northam says, would a lobbyist call himself a “small business owner.”

Gov. Terry McAuliffe tweeted support for Northam, saying "Virginia is for lovers. Let's reject Ed Gillespie and Donald Trump's hate on Nov. 7 by electing Ralph Northam!" He also added a link for donations.

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