Trump builds ties with Gov. Glenn Youngkin in an effort to flip Virginia

trump builds ties with gov. glenn youngkin in an effort to flip virginia

Trump builds ties with Gov. Glenn Youngkin in an effort to flip Virginia

Former President Donald Trump is building a relationship with Glenn Youngkin in the hope that the popular Republican governor can help bring Virginia into play this fall.

Youngkin's election in 2021 made him the first Republican in Virginia to win statewide since 2009, but he did so by running a campaign that kept Trump at an arm’s length. Youngkin also waited to endorse Trump in the 2024 race until after the Super Tuesday primary, when the former president easily won Virginia.

While Trump has poked fun at Youngkin’s name and made note of him for keeping his distance, the two are now slowly starting to work together. They recently held a private meeting at Trump’s golf club in Virginia — sources from both sides said it went well — but at this stage Youngkin is not being vetted as a potential running mate, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the process.

Representatives for Youngkin did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Trump campaign dismissed the palace intrigue around the selection process.

Brian Hughes, a Trump campaign senior adviser, said in text message: “As President Trump has said himself, the top criteria in selecting a Vice President is a strong leader who will make a great President for eight years after his next four year term concludes. But anyone telling you they know who or when President Trump will choose his VP is lying unless that person is named Donald J. Trump.”

NBC News has previously reported that Trump’s VP search is focused on North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. JD Vance of Ohio and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. Trump has publicly said that he expects to announce his choice around the time of the Republican National Convention, which begins July 15. But three sources familiar with discussions said earlier that timing remains a topic of debate.

Even if Youngkin does not enter the mix for vice president, he would still be a valuable political asset for Trump. The former business executive, who by law is limited to one term, has enjoyed a popularity rating above 50% for most of his time in office. He also has proven to be skilled on the campaign trial and adept at cable news interviews — characteristics Trump holds in high regard.

Youngkin is scheduled to appear on stage with Trump for the first time on Friday at a rally in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Youngkin ascended to the governor's mansion by winning back suburban right leaning voters who were turned off by Trump in previous cycles. Democratic efforts to tie Youngkin to Trump failed spectacularly in the 2021 governor’s race.

Democrats have won Virginia in every presidential race going back to 2008. While Republicans believe the state is in play, it will likely be a reach and require a significant expansion of their electoral map.

Youngkin spent his gubernatorial campaign in 2021 avoiding even saying Trump’s name out loud. This past weekend, however, he delivered a full-throated endorsement at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s Washington DC conference.

“Elections have consequences and the stakes have never been higher,” Youngkin said. "We must restore a strong America and that begins with electing Donald J. Trump.”

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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