Leahy: Youngkin’s Ambition Points to the Senate, Not the White House

The buzz surrounding Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s political future has gotten a little louder in recent days, especially given his non-answer to a question on whether he would serve out his gubernatorial term and a recent meeting with a collection of high-dollar GOP donors.

Combine this with his campaign stops on behalf of several Republican gubernatorial candidates, and it sure seems like Youngkin is at least exploring the 2024 presidential waters.

All that buzz aside, the hard reality for Youngkin, or any other Republican presidential wannabe, is ex-president Donald Trump has the right of first refusal on the 2024 nomination. And even if Trump decides not to run — or his legal problems prevent it — the Republican Party and its fundraising mechanisms remain firmly in Trump’s sway.

In other words, Youngkin can hand out red vests and talk up parental rights to every Republican he meets and still not have the muscle or money — never mind generate a fraction of the emotional response — Trump can muster with a single social media post.

Worse for Youngkin, he has failed to seize repeated opportunities to get out from under Trump’s malign shadow. The most recent: his refusal to call out Trump’s screed against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and McConnell’s wife, former Trump administration Transportation secretary Elaine Chao.

Fox News host Bret Baier pressed Youngkin to say something — anything — about Trump’s outburst. Youngkin said, “Well, you know, I’m not a name-caller. And in fact, what I focused on and continue to focus on is bringing people together around common-sense solutions to these most difficult and oh, by the way, it [is] most difficult issues that are facing people around their kitchen tables every night. And we have great answers for these….”

As terrible as that nonresponse was, Youngkin found a way to make it even worse: “I’ve just found that calling people names is not the way to, not the way to put forth a good idea….”

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