In an interview before a live audience at the Texas Tribune Festival Friday, Governor Glenn Youngkin answered questions about a potential 2024 presidential run, Donald Trump, campaigning for Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, pro-life policy, and education policy. Most of Youngkin’s answers sounded similar to other speeches he’s made in Virginia, although there was more criticism of America’s border policy and of President Joe Biden’s leadership.
As part of a series of questions sounding Youngkin out about national political ambitions, Washington Examiner Senior Correspondent David Drucker asked Youngkin what Trump did right, and what he did wrong. Youngkin said that the former president successfully addressed kitchen-table economic concerns, supported law enforcement, and focuses on parents and high expectations in education.
“These issues are the ones that I believe continue to be at the forefront of American’s concerns,” Youngkin said.
When asked what Trump did wrong, Youngkin said, “I believe that we have to bring people together at a time when we need to show that there’s a path forward. What we were able to do in Virginia last year is bring people together.”
“We, in fact, stepped back, and we brought people together that had never been in the same room together: forever Trumpers, never Trumpers, Tea Party, libertarians, independent moderate voters, and a lot of Democrats on a platform that was very clear: a conservative common-sense platform that had tangible measures for results,” he said.
Later in the interview, Drucker pressed Youngkin to explain why he shifted mid-campaign from a “business-guy” focus on government accountability to social culture war issues.
“It seems like you’ve become something of a culture warrior,” Drucker said.
“We did talk about education extensively,” Youngkin said, citing school closures, mask policy, and the battle over school academic proficiency.
But he explained, “What happened of course, was that Loudoun County became ground zero, not just for Virginia, but for the nation. And respecting parents’ primary role in parenting of their children. It’s about families. And what became clear, of course, was that left-liberal politicians wanted to insert bureaucrats and politicians between parents and their children. We all knew it, but nobody was willing to say it.”
As a turning point in the race, Youngkin and Drucker both referenced Terry McAuliffe’s statement, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Youngkin told Drucker, “Well, my opponent said it. He said it clearly, and it wasn’t a mistake. He was just affirming what the left-liberal Democrats believe.”
“And so that’s where this campaign, I think, became more than just a state campaign,” Youngkin said. “It became a national movement to recognize the primary role of parents in their kids’ lives.”
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