Ed Gillespie, the Republican nominee for governor in Virginia, has been running a patently racist campaign — but he says it's OK because he has "Hispanic" support.
Republican Ed Gillespie has claimed he would reject racism "at every turn" if he were elected Virginia's next governor, but his actual campaign tells another story.
Gillespie put George Allen, the disgraced former senator and one of the state's most notorious racists, on his team and refused to answer for that decision. And he's been running a grotesque ad conflating the MS-13 gang with immigrants in such an overtly racist way that the ad prompted Donald Trump to endorse Gillespie.
But Gillespie has an excuse for his deplorable tactics: his supposed support from the Hispanic community of Virginia.
During an interview on Trump's favorite show, "Fox & Friends," Gillespie tried to distance himself from Trump's support, and the obvious implication that Trump endorsed him because of his racist ads. Fox host Brian Kilmeade gave Gillespie the friendliest set up possible to explain why his racist ads were actually for the Hispanic community.
KILMEADE: That's really what you want to deal with because guess what communities get hurt the most? Working-class Hispanic communities get terrorized first and foremost by these MS-13 illegals.
GILLESPIE: Well, and that was the point I was making about this Hispanic faith leader in northern Virginia who has a big community, and he was saying look, these MS-13 gang members — they are completely — they don't represent at all what Hispanic values are, and I know that to be true. I have a lot of support in the Hispanic — uh, amongst Virginians of Hispanic descent, and there's no doubt about that.
Gillespie certainly did not invent the cynical trick of hiding behind the supposed support of the same communities he's attacking. Trump certainly did plenty of that during the presidential campaign, insisting that he was beloved by Hispanics and African-Americans, even as he incessantly used racist language to describe those same communities.
That kind of cynical exploitation is utterly offensive, whether it's delivered bluntly by Trump or in a more polished manner by Gillespie.
The Republican nominee is trying hard to convince Virginia voters that he is not as extreme as the leader of his party. But he cannot hide the truth of the ugliness of his campaign.