As a tea-party-sponsored debate just outside Richmond wound down, and following some predictable clashes over cutting taxes, the question became whether front-runner Ed Gillespie doesn’t like Trump enough, or whether brash challenger Corey Stewart loves him too much.
Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and a onetime Virginia leader of the Trump campaign, accused Gillespie of being insufficiently committed to the president. He cited Gillespie’s reluctance to support Trump last fall after a 2005 video was unearthed in which Trump was recorded making lewd remarks about women on the set of the TV show “Access Hollywood.”
“In the wake of the ‘Access Hollywood’ scandal,” Stewart said, “Ed was among the first Republicans in the country to kick him when he was down. . . . You refused to be anywhere near Donald Trump and refused to be on his leadership committee.”
Gillespie, a longtime Republican consultant and former adviser to President George W. Bush, at first avoided addressing his feelings toward Trump. “I supported our ticket as I always support Republican tickets,” he said.
As he went on to call for party unity and mentioned times he had introduced Vice President Pence at public events, someone in the crowd of about 275 tea party activists yelled out, “What about Trump?”
Finally, Gillespie responded: “I did take exception to the comments he made in the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape,” he said, mentioning that he has a wife and two daughters. “Corey’s the only one who thinks they’re great comments,” he said, as some in the crowd booed and others cheered. “I want to make sure we try to respect all Americans, and I found those comments to be offensive.”
This exchange took place during a Republican debate among the gubernatorial candidates. Only Corey defended the indefensible. Kudos for Ed Gillespie for taking the high road. Is Corey so morally bankrupt that he will defend Trump’s misogynistic, offensive, vulgar remarks? Apparently so.
Apparently Corey isn’t counting on garnering a lot of votes from the women of Virginia. I don’t know many women, conservative, moderate or liberal who can excuse Trump’s coarseness and hideously disrespectful behavior towards women. Do any such women exist?
Corey couldn’t resist name-calling, once again, while puckering up to Traveler and draping himself in everything southern. Our new faux son of the south had these words:
“I know controversy, and I know a lot of weak-kneed Republicans don’t like it. That’s tough,” Stewart said, and as supporters began to cheer he added: “Weak-chinned, weak-jawed establishment Republicans. . . . He lost,” he said, referring to Gillespie, “because he has no leadership skills. He’s wishy-washy. . . . If you’re looking for a winner, I’m your candidate.”
Supporters responded with chants of “Cor-ey! Cor-ey!”
But it wasn’t enough. In a straw poll taken before and after the debate, Gillespie won with 125 votes to 79 for Stewart and 20 for Wagner. Fourteen were undecided.
After this election cycle, I am just not sure Corey can come home again. The people of Prince William County aren’t going to forget that he defended sexual assault, vulgarity and generally bad behavior out of someone (Trump) who just should have known better.
Again, good for Ed Gillespie for standing up to bad behavior and denouncing it.